Qantas is set to begin new four times weekly services between Brisbane and Tokyo Narita from August 1 2015, and has announced it will shift its daily Sydney-Tokyo flights from Narita to Haneda from July 31 2015.
And a further three times weekly service to Narita, operating on alternate days to the Brisbane flights, will operate from another Australian port, Qantas says, details of which “will be finalised shortly”.
The new Narita services from Brisbane and the second Australian city will be operated by Airbus A330s, while the Sydney-Haneda flights will utilise Boeing 747-400s. Qantas says better aircraft utilisation is providing the capacity to enable the new Tokyo flights.
The new services mean Qantas will offer double-daily flights to Tokyo. Brisbane-Narita flights will depart at 1115 and arrive at 1930, with the return flight departing 2055 and landing back in Brisbane at 0555. Sydney-Haneda flights will depart at 2040, arriving at 0530 the following morning. Return flights to Sydney depart at 2200, landing at 0830 the next day.
Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing with a number of airports for the three times weekly Narita services, according to Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
“We’re in dialogue with a number of airports and what we’re very keen on doing is making sure we get the right arrangements, incentive deals from the airports in question and there is a lot of competition to try and get those services,” Joyce told media in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“So we’re very keen to complete that process and whichever is the best business case and the best support we get behind it, that will determine where those slots go.”
Qantas late last month announced it had secured slots to Haneda, the Japanese capital’s second airport which predominantly serves domestic flights and is significantly closer to central Tokyo than Narita.
“We’d been applying for some time just seeing what we could get and we’ve been very persistent on it,” Joyce explained of the Haneda slots. “I think partly this is [the result of] the relationship we’ve developed with the Japanese in setting up Jetstar Japan and the Free Trade Agreement opening up with the opportunities that that creates.
“It is an amazing outcome, they’re phenomenal slots, they’re rare as hens’ teeth, particularly the ones we’ve gotten because we can do the schedule that we have typically have done to Narita out of Sydney. So it is the evening departure up and the evening departure down, so you can do a full day’s work here and a full day’s work in Japan, and the Japanese love that schedule, our customers love that schedule, so having that in Haneda, which is that much closer to the city, is going to be phenomenal.”
The new services were announced at Qantas’s Brisbane heavy maintenance centre, where Joyce and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman viewed the first A330s being upgraded with the airline’s new business class and upgraded economy class product.
Qantas is upgrading 28 A330-200s and -300s with new lie-flat business class seats, new inflight entertainment systems and refreshed economy class seats. The first upgraded aircraft – A330-200 VH-EBV – is due to enter service later this month flying domestically between Sydney and Perth. International services with the first reconfigured A330-300 – VH-QPA – will begin in mid-January between Melbourne and Singapore.
The upgrade work, which takes 30 days per aircraft and involves the installation of 250,000 individual parts, is due to be completed by the end of 2016, Qantas says. More than half the fleet is expected to be upgraded by the end of 2015.