LONDON – Qantas has announced today that it will resume scheduled services between Brisbane and Tokyo as of December 1, which increases the momentum of its revival of air connections between Australia and Japan.
Qantas is confident that this route will be successful as there is still no signal from rival Virgin Australia in response to its relaunching the hyped Brisbane-Tokyo flights. The Australian flag carrier is expected to highly benefit from the move.
The Brisbane to Tokyo route will increase the airline’s portfolio to Japan with seven weekly flights between the Sydney-Tokyo service, which also received an increase from its three per week early this month, and also the resurrected Melbourne-Tokyo flight which will begin in March of 2023.
Qantas will utilise Haneda Airport for all the Tokyo routes, which has proven to be more popular than Narita Airport as it is closer to the city centre; offering more convenience for tourists and especially business traffic alike.
Moreover, with Haneda Airport being a Oneworld hub for Japan Airlines, passengers can easily interchange between the two airlines seamlessly at the airport, with world-class first and business-class lounge selection.
Flights to Brisbane
Flights to Brisbane will be a thrice-weekly flight on the Airbus A330, equipped with 28 180 degrees lie-flat Business Suits for the business class cabin, and 269 economy class, but unfortunately no premium economy class.
This service will bear flight number QF61, which will depart from Brisbane (BNE) every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 11.50 am, to arrive at Tokyo Haneda at 8 pm.
On the return flight, the airline will operate as QF62, and will depart from Tokyo at 9.30 pm, arriving in Brisbane at 7.35 am the following day.
Andrew David, Qantas International CEO stated positively: “Forward bookings are tracking well, particularly for the upcoming Australian holiday period.”
“This signals that many Australians are eager for an escape to the festive season of the Japanese ski season and its famous and authentic culture and food scene.”
“Japan remains one of the most popular routes for Australian travellers, as it attracts them with restaurants, attractions, nature and new boutique hotels.”
Despite much of the fanfare surrounding this flight, there are some concerns being brought up by the Queensland state government.
The state government is also supporting the route with its $200 million Attracting Aviation Investment Fund created to boost Queensland’s tourism sector, which will prevent the returning flight from being empty.
Queensland’s Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said: “Pre-COVID-19, for the year ended December 2019, Japan represented the third largest market by expenditure and fourth largest by visitation to Queensland.”
He added: “In that year Japanese visitors totalled about 219,000 generating $459.7 million in overnight expenditure and an average length of stay of 15.8 days.”
Virgin Australia’s Take
Without a doubt, Qantas’s biggest rival Virgin Australia has their eyes aimed at launching its own Brisbane-Tokyo Flights in March 2020 but was obviously postponed due to the pandemic and the following the bankruptcy procedures because of it.
Virgin’s new creditor Bain Capital denounced the need for the airline to own long-range jets like the Airbus A330 and the Boeing 777 jets to shave off costs.
Many Australian airlines, notably Qantas and Virgin Australia have been pushed back by a committee called The International Air Services Commission (IASC) which oversees Australian airlines, in terms of slots, parking, departures and arrivals.
It has pushed back ‘must-fly’ starting dates on several occasions, putting off many airlines. The committee cited that the pandemic and health measurement reasons were the largest hurdles.
Nevertheless, IASC has considered the new proposed date for Virgin’s flights to Tokyo on 26 March 2023.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson stated, “Virgin Australia has retained its capacity allocation in Tokyo Haneda with the intention of commencing Australia-Japan services in the future.”
“We welcome lifting travel restrictions in Japan and are working closely on our plans as demand for leisure travel to and from Japan returns.”