Qantas hits pause on planned non-stop flights to Paris

Qantas hits pause on planned non-stop flights to Paris

Qantas’ plans to expand non-stop flights from Perth to Europe are on hold, with the airline’s ongoing disputes with Perth Airport causing the carrier to shelve plans to go beyond the current Perth-London service out of Australia’s west coast.

The two companies are currently in disagreement over both airport usage charges, and which international terminal Qantas can use in Perth for its expanding network of international flights – a stoush that already cost the city a non-stop Qantas flight from Perth to Johannesburg.

In a briefing with media at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce shared that “today, we would be in the process of preparing for further services out of Perth into Europe – we would be ordering aircraft to do Perth to Paris, which would be the next one on our list, except for the fact that there’s a dispute with Perth Airport.”

Referring to the battle over airport charges, in which Perth Airport is suing Qantas in the courts of Western Australia, Joyce continues: “Until that’s resolved, we’re not going to reward bad behaviour. We don’t think that’s the right thing to do with our business, so unfortunately, we’re not expanding (out of Perth) at the moment.”

Speaking to the broader issues with management at Perth Airport and Qantas’ planned Perth-Johannesburg route that didn’t take off, Joyce says that “basically I’ve never heard of an airport stopping an airline doing a new route, so they’re doing unbelievable things that they need to get resolved.”

Australian Business Traveller understands that Qantas was hoping to use its newly-designed Terminal 3/4 precinct in Perth – where flights to London already depart – to host the airline’s other international services including Johannesburg, but that Perth Airport was insisting that these flights depart from the other side of the airport.

Qantas is said to have found this impractical, given the geography of Perth Airport and the need to swing aircraft between domestic and international flights: a difficult feat when it takes the better part of an hour to tow planes from one side of the airport to the other, not to mention the cumbersome transfer experience for passengers making that inter-terminal journey.

Still, Joyce is optimistic. “I hope it doesn’t go on until 2022-23” when Project Sunrise is due to kick off, and the potential of non-stop flights to Paris from Australia’s east coast exists, “so we think it would be resolved before then.”

“We’ll be very excited about doing Perth-Paris as the next cab off the rank," provided those disputes are resolved.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a spokesperson for Perth Airport said the airport  "has repeatedly stated it is ready to host a Qantas Johannesburg service through T1 International where 17 other international carriers operate.

"Perth Airport has secured pricing agreements with 23 out of 24 airlines which operate at the airport – which is evidence that our approach to pricing is both fair and reasonable. Perth Airport is seeking a speedy resolution to the Qantas non-payment of airport charges issue and the current independent arbitration through the Supreme Court will best enable this."

On the delivery flight of Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 in October 2017, Joyce told Australian Business Traveller that the airline had already pencilled in a daily schedule for the planned Perth-Paris flights.

"For the first time we have daily rights for Paris. Last time we were in Paris we only could do three days a week, which made it sub-economical and meant that we weren’t attracting the business market, but now that has changed."

Joyce also had his eye on a non-stop flight into Germany, with Frankfurt – which the airline previously flew via Singapore before axing the route in 2013 – sitting on the shortlist.

"Germany is still a big market and it's been hard for us in the past when we were flying through a hub, so the opportunity there is actually quite real.” However, that route is also likely to be collateral damage in Qantas’ stoush with Perth Airport.

Chris Chamberlin is attending the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

62 comments

  • levelnine

    levelnine

    3 Jun, 2019 10:32 am

    'we would be ordering aircraft to do Perth to Paris'.

    Sounds like a convenient excuse. An airline doesn't change their orders for aircraft, which have multi-year lead-in times, as a result of a dispute with a single airport operator.
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  • Dan Ho

    djtech

    3 Jun, 2019 12:35 pm

    This would likely involve activating one of the options to increase an existing aircraft order and not entirely new orders.
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  • levelnine

    levelnine

    3 Jun, 2019 12:43 pm

    So say Qantas declines to take up its options to increase an aircraft order. 6 months later, Perth Airport changes its mind. Qantas has now lost its spot in the order queue at Boeing and is now left high and dry without any aircraft to undertake a route. Doesn't sound likely, does it?
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  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    3 Jun, 2019 05:57 pm

    You buy your way in and out of the cue (value can go either way, it isn't always cash), when you sell your spot to another party you usually negotiate conditions to back out, again that works both ways
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    3 Jun, 2019 04:38 pm

    Agree. More likely that QF found that market research indicated it couldn't fill its planes at an acceptable yield per seat.

    It used to operate (using its own metal) several flights a day to Europe (including UK). Now it's down to just a daily A380 and a daily B789 via (respectively) SIN and PER.
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  • M S

    Strange

    7 Jun, 2019 03:19 pm

    WTH is PER playing at...Who cares what terminal they use????? Of course 17 other airlines use the international terminal. They don't have domestic flights in coming on their own airline... PER airport just get on with life.
    Member who gave thanks

    charlieg

  • Stewart Smith

    ssmith3104

    7 Jun, 2019 04:55 pm

    No, they don't change their aircraft ordering, but they do deploy those aircraft onto alternative routes. The 787 that might have been used Perth to Paris might now be used on the new Brisbane to Chicago route.
    No member give thanks

  • Otto Van De Velde

    OttoV

    3 Jun, 2019 10:42 am

    The current stop- over in Perth on the Melbourne to LHR route is a brilliant, but sparsely used lounge. Food offerings, include BBQ ‘ed goods, great barista coffee, plenty of non and alcoholic drinks and ample shower facilities. It would appear a shame not to have access to it on the proposed Melbourne to Paris route
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  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    3 Jun, 2019 10:42 am

    Has their ever been a airport that stands in the way of new flights!? Perth Airport absolute disgrace and as for the Labor WA government. Tourism minister Paul Papalia / Premier Mark McGowan how about stepping in and helping with something that is STOPPING additional tourists and flights? Nothing but silence from them on this whole matter.

    Love him or hate him but the previous Premier stepped in to ensure the Perth to London happened. The new minister is only interested in Quokka selfies it seems!!
    Member who gave thanks

    MattJelonek

  • jubbing

    jubbing

    3 Jun, 2019 10:48 am

    I think for those of us in Melbourne/Sydney, most would still prefer to go via Singapore/Middle East to get to Europe as there are more route options than Perth to London (and they're slightly quicker), so it's not really a big loss, but more routes are always helpful!
    Members who gave thanks

    JKH, oxy, mb68

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    3 Jun, 2019 11:27 am

    For all the hoopla about non-stop flights from Australia to UK/Europe, having to transit Perth does not a non-stop journey make, at least from the East coast. Nice place Perth, but hardly a remarkable stopover option for outbound Oz pax. SIN any time. All that aside, this PER airport impasse is a disgrace.
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    oxy

  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    4 Jun, 2019 10:26 am

    Plus, for the PER option, you are forced to fly the Qantas Nightmareliner.
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  • BatteryBen

    BatteryBen

    4 Jun, 2019 08:32 pm

    Have you flown it? The J class hard and soft product is terrific. Can’t speak for Y.
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  • jianga

    jianga

    3 Jun, 2019 11:41 am

    Chris did you approach Perth Airport for comments? I wonder what their side of they story is. This dispute has been going on for some time now and it's not really doing any good PR-wise to either the airport or Qantas.
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  • levelnine

    levelnine

    3 Jun, 2019 12:45 pm

    Exactly. There's always two sides to every story. Yet AusBT only reports one.

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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Jun, 2019 02:35 pm

    As has been mentioned, we have approached Perth Airport's media team for a response. When we get a reply we'll update the article accordingly.
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  • Paul Reynolds

    Sydney787

    3 Jun, 2019 11:47 am

    The authorities in Perth are crazy for not letting Qantas do a Perth to Paris flight. Who cares what terminal the flights departs from. You can't say to Qantas, spend millions on a new lounge a facilities for a London flight knowing they want Paris and Johannesburg and then tell them to use the regular international terminal. I thought Western Australia was pro Qantas country.
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  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    4 Jun, 2019 10:27 am

    The airport is happy for QF to do Perth to Paris, it is just that QF is not paying airport fees due and payable, unlike 23 of the 24 airlines which use PER. More spin from Qantas, it's sickening.
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  • devilish

    devilish

    4 Jun, 2019 10:45 am

    Actually the state government made a huge contribution to build the required immigration facilies and lounge facility for Qantas to ensure the London flights went ahead.
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  • Frank

    Frank

    7 Jun, 2019 04:18 pm

    Agree - around $20m from memory to satisfy Mr Joyce.
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  • jdog88

    jdog88

    3 Jun, 2019 11:56 am

    Qantas are acting like little kids in this dispute. The ASA negotiation was offered at a lower rate to the previous 7 years. All airlines agreed except for Qantas who decided to pay 40% less that the invoiced amount until they got more of a discount. Using this as an excuse not to commit to new routes is pretty pathetic.
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  • ramius

    ramius

    3 Jun, 2019 04:46 pm

    Oh of course. But wait, Virgin Australia operate from T1, so passengers can connect straight through Internationally from Domestic flights, because it is the same terminal. Qantas has to move passengers from T3/4 to the other side of the airport, which means connectivity issues. . So VA have a competitive advantage, while Qantas is trying to make new routes into Europe and bring pax into Aust. But no, it's Qantas that are acting like little kids, right? Perth Airport is an outdated disgrace that its management should be ashamed of.
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  • Fonga

    Fonga

    3 Jun, 2019 12:00 pm

    Qantas has a point if PER insists on all international flights departing from the other side of the airport. Co-locating the domestic and international flights is the whole point of making PER a hub for European flights. Otherwise you just have another SYD on your hands. Until a new domestic terminal is built in the international precinct, as Virgin have, then Qantas should stick to its stance.
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  • P1

    P1

    3 Jun, 2019 12:14 pm

    Are they allowed to use Sydney domestic terminals for their international flights?

    They need to follw the rules/law and use the international terminals with all the proper facilities including federal customs/immigration/baggage screening processes.
    No member give thanks

  • ramius

    ramius

    3 Jun, 2019 04:50 pm

    But it is ok for Virgin to operate wholly from T1, assuring seamless connections for International Passengers, but Qantas has to move all its domestic passenger to the other side of the airport while trying to build a market fro direct access to Europe? P1, you have no idea what you are talking about.
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  • TheBigM

    TheBigM

    3 Jun, 2019 12:02 pm

    As above, that's the Qantas side. Should hear the Perth airport side as well for balance.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Jun, 2019 12:21 pm

    Just to advise that we have approached Perth Airport for its comment and will update the story on their response.
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    3 Jun, 2019 04:43 pm

    'The West Australian' had an article on 30 March 2019 that gave Perth Airport's side of the story.

    Why not report what it previously said?

    This would give the ABT story more balance. Not really fair to only report QF's side of the story given that it allegedly owes Perth Airport millions in unpaid fees.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Jun, 2019 04:47 pm

    We'd rather approach Perth Airport directly, we have done that and the article has now been updated with comments by a Perth Airport spokesperson.
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  • Sladeyp

    Sladeyp

    3 Jun, 2019 06:09 pm

    Didn't realise it was a public holiday in WA today did you?
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  • markpk

    markpk

    3 Jun, 2019 08:12 pm

    It's been a public holiday in Perth for about 6 years now...
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  • Sladeyp

    Sladeyp

    3 Jun, 2019 08:14 pm

    Is that meant to be funny?
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  • Shingi Sa

    davidzuo

    3 Jun, 2019 12:35 pm

    Someone is surely short-sighted - a generous WA government subsidy to Qantas should be in-force for the airlines to open more international routes. Yet, someone is still barguing about airport fees?! How did this happen?
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    3 Jun, 2019 04:45 pm

    Why should governments subsidise international air travel? There's plenty better uses for taxes. This would only distort the market.
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  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    4 Jun, 2019 10:30 am

    Yes, exactly, Traveller14. I'm pretty sure that hard-working shop assistants and tradies would not be happy that their taxes are being used to pump up Alan Joyce's bonus.
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  • Shingi Sa

    davidzuo

    4 Jun, 2019 05:23 pm

    Because more domestic and international travelers going to or transiting through Perth will help boosting the local economy, lifting the domestic buying power, securing more jobs across the industry chains, putting Perth on the world map, potentially lowering airfares connecting European destinations and ultimately strengthening GDP. Subsiding international routes will help the market - especially in the long term, rather than distorting it - it comes with its disadvantages (I agree to a limited extent), but won't outweigh the multifaceted advantages. Also, not a cent from the subsidy will go to Alan Joyce's bonus @stmaus
    No member give thanks

  • squeeowl

    squeeowl

    3 Jun, 2019 02:04 pm

    This battle is so frustrating considering the state government funded T3 refurbishment / international conversion has 3 gates and was clearly designed for a lot more traffic than just 2 daily flights, yet PAPL refuses to budge with negotiating with Qantas and allowing them to operate more flights out of said purpose built terminal. At this stage it is 100% an issue over the airport charges as Qantas ceded control of T4 to PAPL this year, so there is no longer any valid argument in relation to Qantas managed tenants benefiting from the services over PAPL managed tenants.

    You'd think in an operating environment with steep declines in international pax (almost 10% averaged YTD) and a state government that is fighting a decline in tourists visiting from overseas that PAPL would think of the greater good. We're at the stage where the state government should think about intervening as they did when the battle to get the PER-LHR services off the ground was raging.
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  • David Henshall

    Red Cee

    3 Jun, 2019 04:32 pm

    I am amazed that sympathy is with Perth Airport. If you had a business that could utilise PER to CDG, or PER to FRA, or any other airport, I am sure you wouldn’t be sympathising with Perth Airport.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Jun, 2019 04:47 pm

    This article has now been updated with comments from a Perth Airport spokesperson.
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  • Sladeyp

    Sladeyp

    3 Jun, 2019 08:01 pm

    Quote from Perth Airport appears to be a rehashed statement from previous stories about Jo-burg flight and not in response to specifics of this article or Joyce's comments in Seoul.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Jun, 2019 08:59 pm

    It’s the quote they gave us - not unusual for PRs to have a fixed and approved line in response to an issue.
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  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    3 Jun, 2019 05:01 pm

    Thanks ausbt for the Perth airport update. Regardless of the financial dispute which is a seperate matter I ask to this:
    “Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a spokesperson for Perth Airport said the airport "has repeatedly stated it is ready to host a Qantas Johannesburg service through T1 International where 17 other international carriers operate.”

    Why?? The London & Singapore daily’s can go from T3 it makes no sense to make a Qantas joberg to go from T1. Why are Perth Airport so stubborn on this point? Regardless of the payment issue.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    3 Jun, 2019 07:06 pm

    Perth Airport didn’t say how many of those other airlines have t tow a plane across a field for its own international connection. The answer of course is none. This is a ridiculous request unless Perth Airport wants more A330s or 787s based in Perth which ain’t gonna happen.
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  • daveX

    daveX

    3 Jun, 2019 05:20 pm

    No one has noticed that this media release was timed for the 'Western Australia' Day public holiday marking then founding WA.

    I myself feel like the WA Gov has to intervene for the common good, but surely it raises an eyebrow when Qantas is clearly being tactical if not manipulative in its approach.

    I think *all* people can agree that new services to Europe out of Perth are a good thing - it's the puzzle piece that there are three players, the public (WA Gov), a private airport and a private (if a not publicly embraced) Airline
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    3 Jun, 2019 05:39 pm

    Hi daveX, just some background information on the timing: the IATA AGM is a three-day event, running this year from June 1-3 (that's Saturday to today, Monday), so as with all the airlines, the choice on timing for media briefings is quite limited during the event, as the schedule is quite packed for airline execs and media alike. (As it was, today's briefing was only possible by scheduling a sit-down practically at the crack of dawn, before the conference events began.)

    No member give thanks

  • dm12

    dm12

    3 Jun, 2019 05:28 pm

    The response from Perth Airport totally avoids the issue at hand. The WA taxpayer has contributed millions towards the terminal improvements, and now the airport is not allowing the terminal to be used for its intended purpose. Surely this is misappropriation of public funds and the government must get involved.
    Member who gave thanks

    BatteryBen

  • daveX

    daveX

    4 Jun, 2019 01:56 am

    I don't think it's tenable to suggest that a 'national' airline drops one of its own country's largest and economically significant cities.. let alone abandoning 1/3 of the entire country in the process.

    In fact, despite the eastern state centric mentality on display, its actually a benefit for the rest of the country to have Perth as base for travel westward to Europe/Middle East/Africa - as it brings about more possibilities in terms of timing and connections when stopping over to Perth.

    In doing so, the LHR flight to Melbourne already shaves a number of hours and with possibilities like Paris/Frankfurt and even Rome/Berlin/Helsinki and Madrid (the latter two oneworld hubs) these should bring about easier access to the rest of the world instead of having to transit in a third country.

    Yes, Project Sunrise is just over the horizon, as I imagine it will potentially always be still a few years away (!) but the economics with weight and passenger load will only enable a few select high load routes.

    By utilising Perth, a whole range of lower passenger load routes are opened up in that side of then hemisphere over the next decade or even two.

    Hopefully, some sense at the opportunity lost is realised by both parties and most of all by the state government who has already invested and intervened once before and needs to do so again for the national common good.
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  • comeflywithme

    comeflywithme

    5 Jun, 2019 10:55 pm

    How do you figure this affects 1/3rd of the population of the country?

    The population of WA, and more specifically PER is tiny and on the steady decline since the end of the mining boom.

    In this case it’s only benefit is geography.

    As for the airport dispute, PER airport are being unreasonable. In the end, the travelling public will suffer. QF will repurpose jets on the new US routes ex-BNE.

    Once SYD-LHR direct is possible, the PER flights will evaporate like their population.
    No member give thanks

  • wiz30

    wiz30

    4 Jun, 2019 11:48 am

    Perth Airport should not be bending over backwards to help out an airline that has not paid it's invoices in full. Surely business people on this forum agree, you pay your bills, if you want favours coming your way!

    In this order, this issue could be sorted.

    1. Qantas pay their overdue bills.
    2. Perth Airport agree to Paris/JoBurg route from T3 (for 3-4 years)
    3. Qantas agree and sign contract to move to new airport precinct, once runway and facilties are built
    4. Perth Airport/Qantas/WA Government get the second runway built and facilties built for Qantas to move.
    5. Solved - everyone happy!
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  • willvill

    willvill

    5 Jun, 2019 06:49 pm

    This is the same airport that shortly after Alan became CEO was provided NO international flights out of Perth by Qantas
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  • P1

    P1

    7 Jun, 2019 03:45 pm

    Time for Perth Airport to hike up rates for International flights leaving from the Domestic terminal to AT LEAST double what the charges are for using the proper Domestic terminal.

    See how quick Qantas start using the correct terminal for International flights then.
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  • Markspark

    Markspark

    7 Jun, 2019 03:53 pm

    To those who think this is a convenient excuse for Qantas you are crazy. The Per-LHR route is profitable and has incredibly high customer satisfaction. It provides a once stop option to a large number of Australian ports (including many in Regional WA Perth Airport!) and the value to the local economy is way above predictions with an average of 5 nights for those that stopover in Perth. Perth Airport is a monopoly if you read the productivity commission report you can see all of us are being gouged. What other country’s airports fight against their national carrier?!? I love WA but I’m not visiting until Perth Airport wake up.
    No member give thanks

  • John

    VZ1_60

    7 Jun, 2019 04:28 pm

    the owners of Perth Airport have been dragging the feet for years on improvements as they continue to gouge airlines and passengers on exhorbitant fees. They were forced to do something about the 50 year old terminal before it fell down. As for the 3rd runway, it is at least 3 years away as they have allowed businesses to lease the land where it goes, and have to give 3 years notice to end the leases.
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  • CWT Traveller

    CWT Traveller

    7 Jun, 2019 05:47 pm

    Before Qantas axed 100% of their international services from Perth they were quite happy to operate out of the international terminal. When they reintroduced services to Singapore they were happy to do the same. When they started seasonal flights to Auckland they were from the international terminal. It was only once they were lobbying for the PER-LHR service that they suddenly all had to be in the same precinct, the woefully out dated and inaccessible terminal 3/4. Then suddenly the world would end if they had to move. Step in the WA Government with tens of millions in funding for a second international terminal in Perth. Qantas are greedy, nothing more.
    No member give thanks

  • OZjames70

    OZjames70

    7 Jun, 2019 07:07 pm

    What is interesting in this debate is that no-one seems to realise that Perth Airport is not operated by a government department, so government probably has little if any say in how they operate.
    Since 1997, Perth Airport Pty Ltd (a commercial entity) has been operating under a 99-year leasehold control of Perth Airport (but still gets the government to give them some funding). This was part of the privatisation of Australian airports.

    I suspect they're trying to make as much money as they can out of their investment, which makes sense. I don't know they are any better or worse than Qantas.

    They are operating a business with virtually flat passenger numbers and movements, so my guess is they will look at fees as a way of growing revenues. They have attracted Costco and DFO to move onto some of the land they don't need so must be doing some things right. Their BoD are not slouches, so I'd guess it is two commercial organisations 'posturing'.
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  • Markspark

    Markspark

    7 Jun, 2019 07:38 pm

    Oh come on OzJames - Perth Airport is a monopoly and has none of the competitive pressure that Qantas does. Australian aviation is the most deregulated in the world yet the airports operate without competition. Sure it is a business but it can charge whatever it likes and we don’t have a choice. Just have a look at their charges and you’ll appreciate we are all being ripped off and they are operating against the interest of Perth and Western Australians. If Perth doesn’t make the most of this opportunity and create a hub market then once non stop flights happen from the East Coast no one will bother trying this again.
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    7 Jun, 2019 08:11 pm

    I'm sure Perth Airport's charges are high and consumers are being ripped off through higher than necessary charges, but deregulated or not, passengers only have a "choice" of two airline groups that in recent months have reduced capacity on many major routes and ceased any pretext of a 'fare war.'

    For effective competition, three or more are required. Complicated of course by SQ's part ownership of VA, but removing cabotage on domestic routes would be great for travellers.
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  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    11 Jun, 2019 08:58 am

    AirAsia offers $99 flights from Perth, so it's not PAPL's charges that are the problem.
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  • Markspark

    Markspark

    7 Jun, 2019 11:17 pm

    Traveller14 how many domestic airlines do you think this country can support? So you think opening domestic travel to international operators would help local travellers? You have no idea what you are talking about.
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  • Phil O'Paistree

    Phil O'Paistree

    8 Jun, 2019 09:43 am

    Why not via DRW? Quicker/shorter to LHR, CDG and most West Europe major destinations (exceptions FCO and ATH). Looking at ExpertFlyer seat plans there is, as one would expect, some pickup at PER, but probably not a deal-breaker.
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    8 Jun, 2019 11:59 am

    Since I won't be using QF, or QF9/10, I can be neutral on this. My impression was that quite a good eprcentage - perhaps in excess of 55 per cent - boarded in PER for QF9, or alighted from QF10.
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  • kimshep

    kimshep

    9 Jun, 2019 02:06 pm

    The perfect solution and time for QF to move all their proposed and operating Europe flights from PER to Broome (BME) ! LOL

    Benefits galore:

    1. It would finally develop BME into a true international port, which in turn would encourage additional domestic traffic.
    2. I'd bet that BME airport would jump at the chance.
    3. Lower airport fees for QF.
    4. Would provide Broome with significant employment opportunities.
    5. On B787-9 flights to Europe (LHR, CDG and FRA), would probably save a few extra tonnes for fuel per sector.
    6. Could be used to open up connecting flights to more of Africa, such as Nairobi, Addis etc.
    7. Nobody ever thought of flying out of a DXB hub, until Emirates came along.
    8. Perhaps BME could become Australia's DXB connecting equivalent?
    9. Could also serve SIN and other points in S.E. Asia.
    10. It would allow QF to deal with the somewhat domestic-mindset that pervades PER airport, by only operating domestic services.

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20 Jun, 2019 07:32 am

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