Competition forces big changes for Australian & New Zealand routes

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Changes to aircraft capabilities, excess capacity and a lack of passengers has forced several quite significant operational changes on the Trans-Tasman routes between Australia and New Zealand.

Even though we’re about to enter the peak Southern Summer period, Emirates, Qantas, China Airlines and Philippine Airlines are all making changes to routes and the way they operate for the start of the low season in March 2018.

Emirates is cutting its Melbourne-Auckland and Brisbane-Auckland A380 services, leaving just Sydney-Christchurch. Qantas will fill these with 7 flights a week to Melbourne, and 2 to Brisbane, on a mix of 737 and A330’s.

Emirates is looking more closely at serving New Zealand directly, rather than via Australia.

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Qantas, which frankly got a bad deal out of the first five years of the Emirates-Qantas partnership, is in a much better position this time and the replacement which is under negotiation, will be very different.

Qantas resumes Sydney-Singapore-Heathrow A380 flights – avoiding Dubai. If anything proves that “our customers prefer it” and “it’s more convenient” were just PR-speak this does. The Dubai route isn’t a popular stop, few people used it as a transfer, and it restricts onward travel for those who are more interested in SE Asia transfers from Singapore. Not only that but Emirates operated in direct competition from Heathrow on the route.

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Qantas also has new aircraft in the guise of the 787-9 due imminently into service, and the new Melbourne-Perth-Heathrow route is set to prove highly tempting for UK visitors reaching both cities.

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If all this wasn’t music to the ears of Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia who operate their own joint venture on the Trans-Tasman routes, they admit competition has driven down profitability very noticeably, China Airlines has also decided to end its Sydney-Christchurch route at the end of this month (October 2017). Add to that Philippine Airlines is cutting out Cairns and switching to a direct Manila-Auckland flight on December 6th.

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Overall the pressure on all airlines is reduced and a market correction that works better for everyone – passengers included, seems to be the order of the day.

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