Mixed Results As Qantas Reboots International Flying

After initially rolling out flights to the US west coast and the United Kingdom, Qantas has relaunched flights to various other international destinations with far less fanfare, including Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Johannesburg, and Honolulu. Just how are those flights performing?

Qantas is having some hits and misses as it attempts to reboot its international network. Photo: Getty Images

Many travelers are sitting on the urge to travel and sticking close to home

Reportedly, those flights enjoyed strong initial demand. But various factors at play means that demand isn’t necessarily holding up. Consequently, Qantas is canceling some flights and even suspending services.

On the weekend, Executive Traveller reported Qantas was suspending its four times a week Airbus A330-300 flights between Sydney and Honolulu for two months from January 31. Qantas only resumed this sector on December 20.

Like many other airlines, Qantas can’t control outside forces. The airline has frequently cited traveler surveys saying that most of their frequent flyers couldn’t wait to fly again.

But with the omicron variant in full swing and jurisdictions constantly changing their entry requirements, Qantas is finding most travelers are sitting on the urge to travel and sticking close to home. With that in mind, this article looks at the outbound loads this week on recently launched Qantas flights to Bangkok, Delhi, and Johannesburg.

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Qantas probably over-estimated most people’s willingness to travel, particularly non-essential travel. Photo: Getty Images

Bangkok and Delhi Qantas flights problematic

Qantas has four Airbus A330-300 flights between Sydney and Bangkok scheduled this week. The Qantas A330-300 seats 269 economy passengers in the main economy class cabin. We’ve missed Monday’s flight. However, at the time of writing, over 200 seats remain available for sale on Wednesday’s flight, and over 150 seats remain on sale for both the Friday and Saturday flights.

Thailand’s constantly changing entry rules and the uncertainty this generates might help explain why passengers are so reluctant to hit the buy button on Bangkok flights. Low-cost subsidiary Jetstar also flies to Phuket from Sydney and Melbourne.

In December, Qantas kicked off its flights to Delhi, saying initial demand was excellent in both directions. However, the Indian Government recently announced arrivals there will have to quarantine for seven days, quickly cooling demand for flights to Delhi.

As a result, Qantas has been canceling many of its services to Delhi. The schedules currently available on the Qantas website reveal four QF69 A330-200 flights timetabled to fly between Melbourne and Delhi this week. Qantas had scheduled six flights (QF67) to fly between Sydney and Delhi this week. But skip through to book and there are no direct Qantas flights from either Australian city available for sale this week.

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It’s not until Tuesday, February 1, that a Sydney – Delhi QF67 crops up on the booking engine. That flight is almost full. However, given the cancelations this week on the Delhi routes, you might reasonably expect that.

Changes in entry rules mean flights to Delhi and Bangkok are now underperforming for Qantas. Photo: Getty Images

Johannesburg bound Qantas flights look like they are performing reasonably well

There are three Qantas Boeing 787-9 flights this week timetabled to fly between Sydney and Johannesburg. The economy class cabin on Wednesday’s QF63 service to Johannesburg is chockers. Friday’s flight has 57 of the 166 economy class seats on the Dreamliner still available for sale. There are 47 unsold economy class seats on this Sunday’s flight to Johannesburg.

And what about the Qantas flights to Los Angeles and London? Monday nights’ QF11 Airbus A380 service between Sydney and Los Angles has 111 (or 30%) of its 371 economy class seats unsold. QF1 between Sydney and London will be pushing back on Monday afternoon. At the time of writing, the 787-9 Dreamliner flight has 64 seats for sale in the economy class cabin.

You wouldn’t call a snapshot of the seats sold this week on Qantas’ international services verifiable evidence of how some of the routes are performing, but it might be fair to say it’s indicative. It also points to the impact on demand of sudden changes to entry rules and the surrounding uncertainty it creates,

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Meanwhile, a week ago, Simple Flying reported Qantas wanted to resume operating its Melbourne – Perth – London flights on March 27. Following Premier Mark McGowan’s fresh border reopening pushback, Qantas says that the start date is “under review.”

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