Monday, September 24, 2012

Flight manoeuvres

Less than a year ago Fred Ariel from Raging Thunder was calling for direct flights from Singapore as a priority to provide a more effective link for "high yield" European travellers into Cairns. Ariel was less than enthusiastic about Asian tourism:
"That's fine but it's profit-less volume numbers. They are not looking at the dollars," he said.
Reef Casino would probably disagree given that they have already placed their chips on a China strategy.

Last month Jetstar announced they were withdrawing from negotiations for direct flights on the Cairns - Singapore route. Just a week later Qantas announced a codeshare alliance with Emirates. Qantas will no longer fly to London via Singapore and will instead fly from our southern capitals via Dubai linking into the Emirates network to a multitude of European destinations while they continue the Qantas service only to Heathrow.

That doesn't mean Singapore does not remain a critical hub in Asia. British Airways have announced tthat they will continue the 'kangaroo route' service via Singapore when Qantas end that alliance to move to Dubai. It is inevitable that Fred Ariel will get the direct (budget) service from Singapore well before his other famous project of a water pipeline from the PNG highlands to Brisbane.

However a recent report in the SMH refers to Guangzhou  as the "new kangaroo route": Spoilt for choice.
According to its chief executive, Tan Wan'geng, nearly half the passengers on the new CS service from Guangzhou to London are from Australia and New Zealand. Guangzhou is the ideal transit stop for what he calls the new "kangaroo route".
Guangzhou in Canton is the home base for China Southern, the largest international carrier in China, who will also commence a trial service into Cairns later this year. So that  European route into Cairns may be as likely via China as Singapore!

Ben Sandilands writes the  Plane Talking blog at Crikey and has been a commentator on aviation issues for a long time, having previously been at the AFR. A recent post on the Qantas Asian strategy has some relevant comment for Cairns: Where next for qantas.

As the Chinese would say: "May you live in interesting times".


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