Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Melbourne to Europe via Perth on Qantas

With the purchase of Boeing 787s, Qantas are pushing ahead with flying direct from Perth to London - no stopping at any Middle East airports such as Dubai. For travellers in Perth, this is great news but what about those of us out east, especially those in Melbourne? Lets have a look and compare flights between "now" and in April 2018.

Looking at flights between Melbourne and Europe in September, 2017:

Looking at flights between Melbourne and Europe in April 2018:

Quite clearly the change to going via Perth has a huge negative impact on the flight time from Melbourne:
FromToChange% Change

And that's just the flight time.

One of the not so obvious impacts of the Melbourne to Europe via Perth is the new departure time of 3:20pm. This will require passengers to be at Tullamarine airport by around 12:20pm. This is in contrast to the current requirement to be there by 6:25pm. 5 hours earlier, how can that be significant? With a 6:25pm "be at the airport" time, it makes it possible for travelers to spend a full day at work. This might be a normal day at work if you live in the city, or leave work early to get home and off to the airport or maybe just get to work earlier so that you can get a full day of work in before 5pm (depending on how flexible your boss is.) The new route via Perth does not allow for that. This means that travelers leaving Melbourne and flying to Europe via Perth will have to spend a day of vacation time not in Europe but simply leaving Australia. If I have to be at the airport by 12:20pm then I need to leave home at (say) 11:20am if it takes me an hour to drive to the airport. There's absolutely no way that I can pretend that between 9am and 11:20am that I can do any sort of meaningful work, thus it is necessary to allocate an entire day to "leaving Melbourne" rather than just an evening.

But what about if you leave for holidays on a Saturday or Sunday? Then there will be no difference to the amount of time that you need to take off work. But if you would have previously left for holiday on any other day of the week, then flying through Perth will cost you an extra day of holiday - for no gain to you as a traveler.

For whom does using Perth as the stepping stone to Europe make sense? Good question. Obviously it makes sense for Qantas (or else Qantas wouldn't be doing it.) It also makes sense for people that live in Perth. But who else? That I cannot work out. People that live in Adelaide? Is Europe no longer such a popular destination for the population of Melbourne and Asia now is? Whatever the case, the relative differences in travel time to continental Europe is huge. From under a day to over a day. In both directions. After the 24th of March, 2018, flying to Europe via Perth on Qantas is now the least desirable option.
What about using Perth as a stopping point for going to Paris? You've got to wonder at how many travelers Qantas has going to/from Paris on a daily basis. On the up side, given Brexit, it may not be a bad idea but it is too early yet to know where business travelers will want to go as companies relocate themselves out of London. Back to Paris. It sounds nice to travel direct from Australia to Paris and avoids the "via Heathrow" problem but once again comes down to timing.
Dubai as a hub or stepping stone for air travel between Australia and Europe makes a lot of sense. A lot. It is a relatively short flight from there to most European cities and doing some quick searching, cities such as Istanbul, Budapest, Rome and Vienna are all a direct flight from Dubai. This works both ways for airlines that use Dubai: it brings more people to the airport as well as being a funnel for more people leaving the airport.
It would seem to me that Qantas have become too carried away with the emotional side of flying to Europe and being able to do it in one direct flight from Australia rather than sitting down and working out what it means for travelers. "Fly to Europe non-stop from Australia" sounds great. But it only applies if you live in Perth. For everyone else it is still at least one stop to Europe and possibly the new route will make going via Perth less attractive. A big problem that Qantas has in trying to use Perth as its hub for Europe is where will people come from that want to fly through Perth. Adelaide might be better. But what about the cities on the eastern side of the country? See above for what it means there. Qantas will have competition from Emirates. Sydney, Perth, London, Berlin anyone? Or Sydney, Dubai, Berlin? Or Sydney, Singapore, Berlin?

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