The Changing Face of Air Travel
Air travel linking Japan and Australia is undergoing significant change. In August, Qantas Airways launched its first ever direct flight between Sydney an Haneda. Following in Qantas’ jet stream, All Nippon Airway (ANA) will also add on the route in December.
Words: Haruka Osoegawa
On August 1, Qantas began operating flights between Sydney and Haneda and between Brisbane and Narita. The Qantas Sydney- Narita flight has been scrapped, leaving only Japan Airlines (JAL) flying the route.
The Sydney-Haneda route is being flown daily by a B747-400. The Brisbane-Narita route has an A330-300 aircraft, also flying daily. Qantas now has two flights a day between Australia and Japan, making available a total of over 9,000 seats.
ANA, on the other hand, has restored its Australian route for the first time in 16 years, bringing to four the number of airlines operating direct flights between Australia and Japan: Qantas, JAL, ANA and Qantas’ subsidiary low cost carrier, Jetstar.
The number of Australian tourists to Japan has been growing for the last few years. Statistics published by the Japan National Tourism Organization indicate that in 2014 the number of Australians who visited Japan grew by 23.8 per cent on the previous year, to 302,656. The ongoing Visit Japan campaign and the weak yen have coincided since the end of last April with Jetstar’s new Melbourne-Narita route, together lifting demand for travel to Japan. The growth has apparently encouraged Qantas’ readiness to embark on new routes.
The Brisbane-Narita route seeks to leverage convenient transfers to Jetstar Japan’s domestic routes. CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, pointed out that the Qantas Group is already operating the Jetstar route between Cairns and the Gold Coast and Japan, and stressed that the Australia-Japan routes are supporting both business and recreational travel. He expressed Qantas’ hope that the new routes will contribute to an increase in Japanese visitors to Australia, and to boosting Queensland’s tourism industry.
In recent years there has also been a steady stream of Japanese companies into Australia. In January 2015, the Japan- Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) came into effect, significantly strengthening the economic relationship between the two countries. Qantas says it expects to see growing business demand on the Sydney-Haneda route as a result.
The events appear to have encouraged Qantas and ANA to set their sights on business demand, with both introducing schedules from Haneda International Airport, near central Tokyo, that are convenient to business passengers. A feature of the new flights is their convenience for business travel and connections; the aircraft will depart either of Sydney or Haneda at night, arriving early the next morning. ANA says that it hopes its new flights will increase economic and cultural exchange between the two countries, and contribute to creating demand for travel to Japan.
The Australia-Japan route is heating up. Perhaps we can look forward, not just to expansion into new routes, but also efforts by all airlines to differentiate themselves and attract customers with their service.