Qantas increased Sydney-London via Singapore A380 frequency to five per week on 07-Sep-09, following the delivery of its fourth A380 – see Route Changes Table for more information (Business Traveller, 21-Sep-09). The carrier will take delivery of its fifth and sixth A380s by the end of the year, to increase Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles frequencies to daily and Melbourne-Los Angeles service to three times weekly. Qantas will also take delivery of a further three A380s in 2010, to be deployed on Melbourne-London via Hong Kong service.
Qantas increases Sydney-London via Singapore A380 frequency
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Where the A380 flies: Japan and intra-Asia routes decline while Australia & Middle East grow
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.
Coming to terms with the disruptors
Within the context of global aviation disruption, Emirates and its low cost long haul-to-long haul model is right at the top of the tree. For years, as Emirates grew rapidly in Australia, Qantas railed at the government’s liberalisation of the UAE bilateral agreements, arguing this seriously undermined the flag carrier’s economics. Added to the longstanding impact of Asian airlines’ sixth freedom dilution of Qantas’ Europe traffic, Emirates effectively spelled the end of any long term aspirations to serve Europe effectively.