Qantas To Axe China Routes

Feb 18, 2009
By Adrian Schofield

Qantas plans to cut some major China routes and will switch its New Zealand domestic service to its Jetstar subsidiary, as Qantas and its regional competitors attempt to deal with the financial downturn.

Qantas says it will cut its Sydney-Beijing service from April 17 and its Melbourne-Shanghai flights from March 31. In the India market, the Sydney-Mumbai route will now connect through Singapore from mid-May. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted the carrier “is not immune from the need to address under-performing routes.”

The June 10 launch of Jetstar in New Zealand will coincide with a boost to trans-Tasman routes. On the NZ domestic front, Qantas said the changeover to Jetstar is a good example of how the group can leverage its two-brand strategy to match service to markets. Jetstar will pick up the Qantas routes in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown, but will drop Rotorua.

Qantas’ NZ subsidiary Jetconnect will shift its focus to NZ-Australia flights. It will receive three new 737-800s between September and November. Overall, the group’s Sydney-Auckland service will increase from four to five daily flights, and Melbourne-Auckland will rise from two to three dailies. However, weekend Brisbane-Wellington service will end. The changes will leave Qantas group with more than 140 trans-Tasman flights a week.

Meanwhile, competitor Virgin Blue is also having to adjust its plans in response to the industry downturn. The carrier announced it is shedding up to 400 jobs and cutting five aircraft from its Australian domestic fleet.

Photo: Qantas

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