As widely tipped earlier this year Qantas will use its A380s on the Sydney-Hong Kong route during the peak 2017-2018 travel season

Going to Hong Kong from Sydney this peak summer system? Qantas is reported as having sold seats on an A380 on the route on one of its daily flights, but the global reservations system updates reported by Routes Online have been a work in progress.

The A380 will appear during the peak summer season from December 10 to March 01, supported by 744s which will also take over some other A330 flights at various times

This is part of the update from the hard working folk at Routes Online:

Sydney – Hong Kong Additional revision sees operational aircraft changes
QF127/128 A330-300 replaces previously scheduled 747-400 and A380. The 747 will still operate on selected dates in Northern winter season

QF117/118 A330-200/-300 replaced by 747-400 and A380:
744 29OCT17 – 09DEC17
388 10DEC17 – 01MAR18
744 02MAR18 – 24MAR18

As of 0715GMT, further adjustment now sees QANTAS maintaining 1 daily A380 service during peak season, instead of 2. However, extension of overall A380 operational period remains unchanged, from 10DEC17 to 01MAR18 (instead of 10DEC17 – 11FEB18).

Which of course is good reason to use a travel agent at times and make sure she or he gets you on that A380 if you want the width of the big Airbus’s economy seating, or its sought after premium economy seat, or the few suites in a first class not found for some time on Cathay Pacific flights on the Australia-Hong Kong routes, and not offered at all on new entrant into the market Virgin Australia’s A330-200s, which also skip the premium economy contest between Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

Sydney and Hong Kong are the anchor points of a route that suffers from slot shortage at each end yet strong demand (although perhaps not as strong for the premium cabins as Cathay Pacific would like!).

The capacity figures tell this story. Qantas offers 484 seats in four classes in its A380s but 297 in the regular and recently refurbished A330-300s often seen on this route. Virgin Australia offers 275 seats in its smaller capacity A330-200s but not first or premium business cabins. However Cathay Pacific, the once fierce rival to Qantas on the route, maxes out at 280 seats at present in its new Airbus A350-900s and which do offer premium economy.

While CX has the most slots on the Sydney-Hong Kong route, it faces during the all important peak days a Qantas A380 able to pick up 204 more passengers per departure. Ouch! Or whatever they say for ‘ouch’  where the fat controllers, oops, route managers, watch the money roll in or out.

That all adds up to a seriously mischievous capacity boost for Qantas over its rival during a long hot summer out of Sydney. And comes a day after Cathay Pacific reported its worst half yearly financial result in 20 years as the market across its global network sees serious declines in yields for reasons much debated in the Hong Kong media.  (Although the stock market was kinder to the airline in earlier trading today.)

Just what Qantas and Cathay Pacific might therefore throw at each other to maintain or gain sales advantages in this period will be interesting, with the risk for Virgin Australia of taking the odd blow while on the sidelines of the wrestling match.

And whenever Qantas replaces  a 297 seat A330-300 with one of is A380s it gains an extra 187 seats for the fat controllers to play with.

Not only that, Cathay Pacific has unofficially indicated that it is going to pack in more seats in economy than ever before, and if it sticks to its plan to make its 777s ten across then logically it will sooner or later make its A350s ten across too. Which should be a screaming success no matter what.

Selling high density seating suffering to the mass market may not prove an inducement to customers, who really don’t give a hoot whether one plane uses more or less fuel than another if they can arrive in Hong Kong on Sydney without the immediate need for remedial therapy. People are getting wider just as airline marketing geniuses insist on making the economy seats smaller.

It isn’t clear if the northern winter of Australian summer timetable for Qantas on the Hong Kong routes is set in cement. But the opportunities to spread out on an A380, or enjoy the increasingly rare experience of doing a medium haul flight in the aged Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400, is going to be there to enjoy if you seek it out.

This post replaces an earlier story.

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