Qantas to add widebody A330 Sydney-Auckland flights as Emirates drops route

Emirates is dropping Auckland-Sydney A380 flights in favour of codesharing on Qantas A330 services on the route. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas will operate Airbus A330-200 widebody services across the Tasman on a permanent basis from July as its alliance partner Emirates withdraws A380 tag flights between Sydney and Auckland.

The Qantas A330s will operate a double daily weekday service on the Sydney-Auckland route starting July 13, replacing Boeing 737-800 narrowbody services. There will also be six A330 flights over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Emirates will end its EK418/419 Sydney-Auckland-Sydney offering (which operates as part of a Dubai-Bangkok-Sydney-Auckland rotation) and instead serve the route via its codeshare agreement wiht Qantas.

Emirates divisional vice president for Australasia Barry Brown said the decision to cut the Sydney-Auckland service was in response to market demand.

“The Tasman is a dynamic market and we saw the need to optimise capacity on this route in line with changes in demand,” Brown said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Our partner Qantas was well positioned to service this route based on current demand and we’re pleased to have the flexibility to work with them to offer a service with an aircraft that is more in line with capacity needs.”

Emirates’ three-class A380s used to serve Australia are configured with either 489 or 517 seats spread across first (14 seats), business (76 seats) and economy (399 or 427 seats). Qantas’s A330-200s have 271 seats (28 in business and 243 in economy). The change means first class will no longer be offered between Sydney and Auckland.

“One of the advantages of the Qantas-Emirates partnership is the flexibility we have with our combined fleets,” Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans said.

“These schedule changes also mean customers travelling to and from New Zealand have more convenient options to connect with the broader Qantas and Emirates network, especially into Asia.”

Under the new schedule Qantas will operate five return flights daily between Sydney and Auckland (two with A330-200s, three with 737-800s), and the airline’s weekly frequencies on the route will increase from 32 to 35 return flights.

Emirates, meanwhile, currently has 77 flights a week to five Australian ports – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. In addition to nonstop flights from Dubai, some flights are routed via Asia, while others continue onwards from Australia to New Zealand.

That figure will increase from December 1, when the airline launches a third daily flight between Brisbane and Dubai.

However, the reduction in Emirates’ trans-Tasman schedule from 28 to 21 flights per week is the latest cut in the Dubai-headquartered carrier’s network.

In April, Emirates said it would halve services from Dubai to Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle from double daily to daily, while flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale were slated to be cut from daily to five times a week. Some routes will also be downgauged to smaller aircraft.

The changes followed the heavily criticised electronics ban imposed by the United States government which the airline said led to a significant deterioration in forward bookings.

Further, the drop in demand for flights to the US has put further pressure on the Emirates group, which reported a 70 per cent slump in profit for the 12 months to March 31 2017 to 2.46 billion Emirati dirham (A$908 million), from 8.18 billion dirham (A$3.02 billion) in the prior corresponding period.

Profit from the Emirates airline operation fell 82.5 per cent to 1.25 billion dirham (A$461 million), from 7.13 billion dirham (A$2.63 billion) previously.

Airline revenue was flat for the year, while load factors fell 1.4 percentage points to 75.1 per cent. Emirates has also deferred some aircraft deliveries in what is a tricky time for Gulf carriers more broadly given the slowdown in the region amid difficult trading conditions and overcapacity.

Qantas’s move to deploy its A330-200s, which are mainly but not exclusively used on domestic services, onto an international route also reflects changes in the local market.

The transition of the resources sector from exploration to production has affected passenger demand to mining states such as Western Australia.

As a result, widebody capacity that features fully flat business class seats on the trans-continental trek between Perth and the nation’s east coast capitals is no longer as necessary as a few years ago, prompting changes at both of Australia’s major carriers.

Qantas has reduced some A330-200 services to Perth and deployed the aircraft on better-performing routes along Australia’s east coast, as well as its recently resumed Sydney-Beijing flight.

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia’s fleet of A330-200s will soon be spread across both domestic and international flights when the airline commences five Melbourne-Hong Kong flights a week with the Airbus twin.

Currently, Virgin mainly uses its six A330-200s on flights between Perth and Brisbane, Melborne and Sydney, as well as the odd short flight on the east coast.

Qantas A330-200 Sydney-Auckland schedule
Flight Number/Routing
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival

QF140 Auckland-Sydney

Every day except Sunday

06:55

08:30

QF146 Auckland-Sydney

Daily

15:20

16:55

QF143 Sydney-Auckland

Daily

08:55

14:00

QF149 Sydney-Auckland

Every day except Saturday

18:20

23:25

Comments

  1. Graeme Hooper says

    EK cut their own throat by bringing forward timing to mid afternoon. QF also need to reconsider 1800, 1830 aircraft to A330 rather than mid afternoon

  2. David Grant says

    Reading this, it would appear that Emirates are cutting many US flights. How long before we see them reducing their huge A380 and B777 orders?

  3. Ian Morris says

    Introduction of widebodied aircraft on the route is to be welcomed, but the loss of the much better Jet Connect cabin service is very much a negative.

  4. Phil says

    Sam. It’s a typo. QF149 is SYD – AKL. Leaves Sydney 18:20 arrives Auckland at 23:25. Not arrives Sydney. No curfew issues into Auckland which operates 24/7.

    Note: Qantas international flights departing Australia are odd numbered. Departing overseas back to Australia are even numbered. Eg: QF 1 SYD to LHR. QF93 MEL to LAX. QF16 LAX to BNE etc.

  5. Phil says

    Ian Morrison. It’s possible (highly likely) that JC crew will operate these in the future. Currently they are not endorsed on the A330.

  6. Alex says

    Interestingly this gives EK a 4th destination they can use trans tasman now if they wanted. Perhaps the rumoured BNE-WLG tag could eventuate with 77L? Or perhaps something even more out there. DXB-CBR-AKL anyone?

  7. David says

    It should be remembered that Emirates have a daily Dubai to Auckland service, and are still operating from MEL and BNE daily. They aren’t pulling out totally from New Zealand and AKL. It may also be that they can use the slot used to go to AKL for the return flight to BKK, thus freeing up two slots at SYD. (The old landing slot from AKL and the old takeoff to BKK).

  8. australianaviation.com.au says

    Thanks @Phil, yes it was a typo and the table has now been corrected. Apologies

  9. Paul Rodgers says

    Agree with David, once Emirates started operating Dubai Auckland non stop, it was inevitable there would be some cut back in EK trams Tasman flying.
    As well, bit of give and take with Qantas and Emirates
    Emirates increase capacity once Qantas stop Melbourne Dubai Melbourne, Qantas increase capacity Sydney Auckland Sydney when EK pull out?

  10. Trash Hauler says

    Good to see Qantas taking over some EK work for a change and not the other way round!

  11. Dave says

    Whilst its good to see QF moving things around to match demand, the reduction in A330 services from Perth (to Sydney in particular) would surely see them lose some passengers to competitors. I’m prepared to pay a little more for a full service airline, particularly with the extra comfort that comes with the A330 as opposed to the cramped 737.

    (ps I’d love to see the 330 come back on the PER-SIN route, or even bring back the PER-HKG route from years back, but that’s purely selfish as SIN/HKG is where I’m always going!)

  12. franz chong says

    a good thing.We have not seen a wide body on this sector with QANTAS IN AGES.it must be welcoming to have one back.unless you went on a codeshare latam or emirates sydney to auckland sector all they got in recent years was mostly 737’s after the switch to jet connect and after the 747’s and 767’s were dropped from this sector a lot earlier than this.

  13. Grant says

    @ Dave , QF won’t lose anything to their competitors ( VA) by moving to 737 transcon , as that is what VA are doing also. The WA boom is well and truely over and both airlines are adjusting there a/c deployment accordingly , like it or not , its the way it is.

  14. Mark says

    Is it known whether the cancellation of the Syd-Auckland sector will result in an earlier SYD-BKK departure?

  15. Jim says

    Where is the surplus 737-8 capacity going to be deployed now the 330 has taken over double daily services

  16. Jarden says

    To Jim,

    From another thread Qantas is looking at serving Melbourne to Bali with 737s later this year. So this could be where they will shift their aircraft to.