Qantas is once again wheeling out the big guns on Australia's most popular cross-country route, with a mighty Boeing 747 flying daily flight between Sydney and Perth from this week.
The jumbo is assigned to the daily QF581/582 service. QF581 leaves Sydney at 10.10am for arrival into Perth at 1.15pm, then turns around to become the QF582 flight out of Perth at 2.35pm, landing in Sydney at 8.40pm.
Qantas previously lobbed the jumbo onto those same flights in May 2011 as a bulwark against Virgin Australia's launch of its 'Coast to Coast' Airbus A330 service, but later removed the 747 and returned to its own mainly A330 flights.
But with Virgin having added two new Airbus A330s with lie-flat business class seats to the transcontinental trek, the Red Roo is once again rolling out its international-grade 747 for the 5+ hour flight between Sydney and Perth.
When the Boeing 747 made its May 2011 debut on the Sydney-Perth route Qantas CEO Alan Joyce trumpeted that "Increasing the premium service we provide business customers flying from east to west will help further cement our position as the ‘Best for Business’ airline."
“Our competitors can simply not match the service that Qantas offers, particularly the Skybeds, which provide increased comfort on the longer routes between the eastern states and Perth."
Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti, unable to resist taking a shot at Qantas, responded that his Airbus A330s were "here to stay – (they) won't come in and out of routes like other large-body aircraft".
The jumbo's comeback is part of the airlines' ongoing battle, with Qantas determined to defend its own oft-quoted 'line in the sand' of 65% market share while Virgin Australia edges closer to the other side of that same line as the challenger continues to woo lucrative corporate travellers.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.