Qantas has revealed the full scope of its new timetable for flights to Asia, and it packs a mix of upsides and downsides for Australian travellers.
It's all about re-examining Asia – and especially Singapore – as a destination rather than a stopover, says Qantas, now that Dubai has become the hub for European flights under the Qantas-Emirates alliance.
"We're making sure we’ve got our Asian strategy buttoned up" Simon Hickey, CEO of Qantas International, told Australian Business Traveller in advance of today's release of the new schedule. "We were actually selling through Asia, not to Asia, and now we’re selling to Asia once again."
Hickey says the retiming of many flights is as much about more sensible arrival times as well as better connections through other airline partners, and not just Jestar Asia.
"Jetstar is one carrier but we’ve got relationships with JAL, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, so it’s about making sure we maximize the connection options for our customers."
"That’s one part of the story but the other part is making sure we’re point-to-point through our business proposition as well. So we’re going to have the right timings, for example, in Singapore that work for business."
Here's a rundown of the changes.
Sydney: swings and roundabouts
Sydney-Hong Kong flights will be reduced to a single daily service from March 31, with the cancellation of the four times per week QF87/88 service from March 31. This will leave QF127/128 as the sole Sydney-Hong Kong flight, and that will be retimed to leave Sydney slightly earlier (at 9.55am instead of 10.40am).
A new Sydney-Singapore (QF81/82) service will run four days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) from March 31, increasing to daily from June 24. It'll leave Sydney at 9.40am to reach Singapore at 4pm – ample time to hit your hotel, freshen up and head out to pre-dinner drinks.
Sydney-Bangkok QF23 is another early bird, with departure from Sydney moving forward from 12.15pm to 9.40am as of March 31.
New flights for Melbourne
As of April 15, the newly-introduced daily Melbourne-Singapore QF35 service which begins March 31 will move from 1.40pm to 9.05am out of Melbourne, making a 3.55pm touchdown into Singapore instead of 7.20pm.
This will fill in for the current Melbourne-Singapore-London (QF9/10) A380 flight, which as of March 31 will be rerouted via Dubai.
In addition, Melbourne-Hong Kong QF29 will run four hours earlier as of March 31, leaving Melbourne at 9.35am to reach Hong Kong at 5.10pm.
Brisbane gets a boost
The Brisbane-Hong Kong service (QF97/98) goes up from four flights per week to five in May 6, and then daily from June 24. All flights all run a bit earlier from March 31, however: the new timetable now sees QF97 leaving Brisbane at 10.20am for wheels-down into Hong Kong at 5.25pm.
Another change: Brisbane-Singapore QF51 will run earlier from April 15, leaving Brisbane at 10.20am.
Cancellations and cut-backs for Adelaide, Perth
Adelaide-Singapore (QF81/82) flights will be cancelled from April 14.
The Perth-Hong Kong (QF67/68) service will be cancelled from March 31 while the twice-daily Perth-Singapore service will be reduced to one flight per day (QF77/78) as of April 15.
That flight will be retimed for better connection to onwards flights in Asia while also making a same-day return into Perth (admittedly just shy of midnight).
The new schedule sees QF77 leaving Perth at 9.50am (instead of the current 11.55am) for arrival into Singapore at 3.20pm, and then heading back to Perth as QF78 for an 11.30pm touchdown.
Frankfurt flights close April 15
The loss-making Sydney-Frankfurt and Melbourne-Frankfurt flights, which were previously slated to close in October, will now cease on April 15.
Qantas travellers looking to reach Frankfurt or indeed any other city in mainland Europe will either need to fly back from London or, much more likely, take advantage of Qantas' codeshare partnership with Emirates, which will involve flying with Qantas or Emirates to Dubai and then transferring to one of Emirates' twice-daily services to Frankfurt.
(Emirates also flies direct to Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich, in case Frankfurt was simply your nearest jumping-off point when it came to travelling with Qantas.)
Your Qantas-Emirates options to Asia
The new Qantas-Emirates alliance will provide some additional options for passengers heading from Australia's east coast to Southeast Asia, with Qantas planning to place its QF code on four evening and overnight Emirates flights that stop on their way to Dubai:
- Melbourne-Singapore's daily QF405, departing at 1900 and arriving at 2350
- Melbourne-Kuala Lumpur's daily EK409, departing at 0230 and arriving at 0815
- Sydney-Bangkok's daily EK419, departing at 1845 and arriving at 0110 the next morning
- Brisbane-Singapore's daily EK433, departing at 0240 and arriving at 0845
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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.