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Qantas to make Singapore and HK its key Asian hubs

Publication Date : 05-02-2013


Qantas will make Singapore and Hong Kong its two key Asian hubs as part of an overhaul of its money-losing global business.

To tap strong growth in the region, the Australian airline will work closely with its low-cost arm Jetstar and other partner airlines.

Qantas said yesterday that it will also re-time its flights to the region from Australia.

From end-March, planes to Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok will arrive up to three hours earlier, and this will make it easier for travellers to connect to other parts of Asia such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

At the moment, Qantas flights to Asia are timed to make it convenient for travellers to continue their trips to London and elsewhere in Europe.

This means that flights usually land here in the late afternoons or evenings.

This makes them unattractive to Australian travellers who want to visit Asia.

This will change from April when Qantas moves its Australia-Europe hub from Singapore to Dubai, as part of a tie-up with Emirates which was announced last September.

Most Qantas flights will then arrive at Changi in the early afternoon. This will give travellers more flight options to the rest of Asia and allow them to arrive at their final destinations before the end of the day.

Said chief executive officer of Qantas International, Simon Hickey: "Through a combination of Qantas, Jetstar and our partners, we aim to provide the best travel options between Australia and Asia."

He noted that capacity on Qantas services to Hong Kong and Singapore will be boosted significantly since it will no longer need to set aside seats for customers going to Europe via these hubs.

For its Singapore operations, the capacity, in terms of seating numbers, will increase by as much as 40 per cent, though actual flight numbers will remain more or less the same.

Other adjustments include cutting Perth-Singapore services from twice a day to once a day, and boosting the frequency from Sydney.

Industry watchers expect Qantas to work closely with its low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar Australia, to grow its Asian wing.

Singapore is a key long-haul base for Jetstar Australia and is also home to Jetstar Asia.

The latter is 49 per cent owned by Qantas and the rest by Singaporean businessman Dennis Khoo.

Together, the two Jetstar carriers account for about 7 per cent of the total number of seats available per week on flights in and out of Changi Airport.

Qantas' share is 4 per cent.

From Singapore, the Jetstar group serves more than 30 destinations mainly in Southeast Asia, China and Japan.

Jetstar is also the airport's second biggest low-cost carrier, by seats, after Tiger Airways, based on data compiled by Sydney-based think-tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Analysts said that while there will be some impact on Changi when Qantas moves its Australia-Europe hub to Dubai, it will not be significant.

One reason is that its flights to Europe - twice a day from Singapore to London and daily to Frankfurt - make up less than a third of the airline's Singapore operations.

When these services are discontinued, analysts expect Singapore Airlines to benefit, though Qantas' expansion of Asian operations will also provide stiffer competition to the home-grown airline.


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