Royal Brunei's first flight from Melbourne to Bandar Seri Begawan took off today, with the Brunei national carrier aiming for a bite of the cheaper end of the transit market to London.
Flights to London have two stops: a three-hour connection in Bandar and a brief refuelling in Dubai, so Royal Brunei will be more attractive for business travellers who find the tradeoff of cheaper flights and relative comfort worth taking a few more hours to reach London.
Prices for fully flexible business class are hovering around the A$6500 mark for the next few months.
By comparison, only Air France/KLM's rock-bottom sale prices (with a double connection in one of several South East Asian hubs and either Paris Charles de Gaulle or Amsterdam Schipol) is cheaper, at just under A$5900, although those flights are not flexible and will incur hefty cancellation penalty. The next cheapest fare is nearly A$7400, while Qantas is over A$8700.
Royal Brunei's seats are pretty comfortable -- the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft that Royal Brunei uses are Singapore Airlines' planes on lease, with business and economy classes.
Business class is in a relatively spacious 2-2-2 layout (most airlines stick an extra seat in the middle), with sloped lie-flat seats.
Economy is in a regular 3-3-3 configuration, with slightly above average seat pitch (the space between your seatback and the one in front) of 32 inches.
Flights inbound to Melbourne operate Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, leaving London at 0940 and arriving in Melbourne at 2115 the same day.
From Melbourne to London, flights run on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, departing at 1240 and arriving at 0625 the next morning.
The new flights have not yet been loaded onto price comparison sites, so business travellers looking for a deal will need to head to bruneiair.com.