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QantasLink ending Melbourne-Coffs Harbour and Sydney-Hervey Bay

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 15, 2016

A file image of a QantasLink Boeing 717. (Rob Finlayson)

QantasLink is dropping nonstop Melbourne-Coffs Harbour and Sydney-Hervey Bay flights from early August.

The last Melbourne-Coffs Harbour flight, which is served once a week on Saturdays with Boeing 717 equipment, will be on August 6, with affected passengers booked to travel after that date transferred onto services via Sydney, Qantas said in a note to travel agents.

Meanwhile, QantasLink’s twice weekly Sydney-Hervey Bay flights, which operate on Saturdays and Sundays with a mix of turboprop and jet equipment, were scheduled to end on August 7. Instead of the nonstop service, the airline was rebooking passengers on flights via Brisbane.

Alternatively, passengers can change their flights to a new destination, receive a full refund or receive a credit from the airline for use towards future travel, Qantas said.

Sydney-Hervey Bay is also served nonstop by Virgin Australia, while Tigerair Australia offers nonstop service between Melbourne and Coffs Harbour.

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Comments (12)

  • Rob


    Let me just say if qantaslink had used intelligence and did Hervey Bay to Melbourne they would of made a absolute killing but no they wanted to play with Virgin doing the sydney thing how stupid. Now its the residents of Hervey Bay and people who visit our region now missing out on a direct flight. Wake up Airlines start taking a look at what services people need instead of your own pockets.

  • random


    I continue to wonder if Australia’s airlines are missing out on significant opportunities by phasing out or not procuring aircraft in the E170 class. With Australia’s population base, there are many direct city connections that are likely to be highly viable with 70+ seat jets (and possibly better frequencies), but are basically unsustainable with 100+ seat jets (B717, B737, A320).
    Direct route connections provide enough ease of travel and an appropriate price point such that they must entice more pax than expensive multi-leg (turbo-prop and connecting jet) services via a capital city hub. Obviously however they do not generate sufficient additional patronage to warrant larger aircraft in the 100+ seat category.
    This necessitates fleet and marketing decisions that the airlines have for the most part assiduously avoided – most likely as it is easier to funnel the captive market of passengers towards hubs, rather than grow new markets with brazen long-term decisions.
    Airnorth seems to have realised the potential for playing in this space, and to a lesser extent JetGO (albeit with E135 class aircraft). The Australian fleet of 70 seat longer-range jets is however tiny compared to the global proliferation of this aircraft class. Virgin it would seem considered the idea but couldn’t coordinate it with other fleet and route ambitions – hence the removal of E170s.
    Much of Australia’s hub mentality in air services obviously relates to the relative dominance of Australia’s Capital Cities, and is supported by Government financed intra-state services, but in selected cases this seems to be gradually eroding. It seems however that the airlines are slow in some cases to exploit direct services. Newcastle is a classic case in point, where for years the airlines provided no service claiming there was no market. 1.2 million passengers per annum in recent years would suggest that reticence was utterly unjustified – a makes the planning, marketing and fleet choices of the airlines look positively myopic. There are probably several longer-range markets for a city like Newcatle (or for that matter cities like Townsville, Canberra, Toowoomba, Darwin, Albury, Coffs Harbour, Sunshine Coast or Hervey Bay) that remain untapped because there are little or no aircraft domestically to suit the service.
    It will be interesting to see if Airnorth and JetGO continue to expand into this untapped market.

  • Craigy


    Why don’t you armchair CEOs produce a business plan with costings, revenue and expected patronage on your chosen routes and send it to Qantas and/or Virgin? Maybe they have missed something!

  • random


    @ Craigy
    Point taken – no I’m not an airline CEO. Having said that, routes like Townsville-Darwin, and more recently Toowoomba-Cairns and Toowoomba-Melbourne are all up and running using Airnorth E-170s, and it would seem are running successfully to this point. That would suggest there is a potential market for this class of aircraft on longer thinner routes in this country – which as you suggest may not suit the major airlines who are structured to work with higher volumes and yields – but that doesn’t mean the market is not there to be exploited given the right types of aircraft (good payload / range attributes now seem to exist within this generation and class of aircraft as never before).
    You would be hard pushed arguing against the historical apathy by the airlines to the viability of Newcastle – for a long time it simply didn’t suit them, until Impulse expanded into jets, in effect forcing their hands. The most ridiculous element was that the airlines almost seemed surprised that expansion into direct routes from Newcastle was a raging success. One can only imagine the airlines collectively looked at the volume of services out of Aeropelican on Twin Otters and said to themselves that Novacastrians just weren’t interested in flying!
    I don’t believe the airlines always instantly react to exploit all available market opportunities, particularly if they are protecting extant core markets from potential cannabilsation, or trying to sustain the economics of higher yield / higher volume by funneling through hubs. That’s the very nature of hub airline operations. All of this doesn’t mean that a market for 70+ seat jets flying longer thinner direct services doesn’t exist. It’s just whether airlines want to find a way to service that market directly, or sustain hub operations that service it indirectly.
    Perhaps the fact the Airnorth has expanded into this field supports the fact that it’s unsustainable for the major airlines – but that doesn’t mean the market doesn’t exist.

  • I read an interesting article in this months magazine on Contrails about the lack of follow on orders by Qantas for Boeing 787’s. Looking at the current Production schedule from Airbus, they are currently showing Slots up to number 600 fully allocated (and by my calculation) based upon the average build by Bowing over about 10 new aircraft delivered per month, this means that the absolute earliest Qantas make take deliveries of any its just 8 x 787’s would be September 2017. (So probably December 2017 before they are in Revenue service). This is bearing in mind that airframes from 600_ are not listed yet by customer and that airframe 454 is ready for delivery now. To me it looks they would be better off placing an order fore some Airbus A350’s perhaps using the cancellation fees fore those additional non delivered 6 A380’s out of their original order of 20.

  • Marc M


    Reminds me of the heady days of Ansett Express and it’s attempt to do exactly what has been described using F28 equipment on regional routes in QLD, NSW and TAS., replacing B737’s. Didn’t work because the parent airline was too scared to try higher frequency vs higher capacity for very long – too scared of losing market share when the market really appreciated the frequency.

  • ButFli


    When Virgin withdrew the E170 it was said that no RPT operator in the world was making a profit with them and that turboprops were the solution.

    Maybe Airnorth has figured out what no other airline could. Though I suspect some of the apparent success of the Toowoomba routes is because the owners of the new airport are offering a very attractive deal.

  • Vannus


    Any Airline will stop unprofitable routes, no matter what aircraft type’s in service.

    IF people REALLY wanted to fly to CFS & HVB, what IS the problem flying into SYD to connect?

    There’s so much to consider when an Airline wants to fly a particular route. To organize could take months’, not weeks’.

  • Ted


    I think Virgin was displeased with the profitability on short haul routes where ATR/DH8 services were more viable, in which case killing early build E170 was probably a good decision if they only intended to deploy them short haul.

    The question here seems to be long thin routes in Australia (1000+km), most of which turbo-props just won’t cut it on, and Virgin seemed disinclined to try with the E170.

    There would be quite a few city pairs in Australia that are in that distance category if one of the airlines is willing the create a fleet to service them.

  • chuck


    Isn’t the point here that long regional sectors need jets rather than turboprops, and Australia has plenty of long distances and only a relatively small population – meaning that bigger main-stream jets are sometimes too big for many of these direct routes in Australia, and turboprops don’t have enough speed and range?

    That either means hub and spoke, or smaller jets on direct routes. It’s just whether an airline wants to exploit the multitude of long thin routes as a niche. Pax will almost always say yes to direct services, as no-one (apart from pax chasing status credits) wants multi-leg trips – they waste significant amounts of time and you pay for the extra flight legs. Hard to say exactly but direct routes probably stimulate pax numbers.

    Neither VA or QF seem to have the appetite or economics to want to pursue this directly, but the market is most likely there for the taking (or making) in spite of the main airlines not wanting to equip for it.

  • Craigy


    The discussion of jets on regional routes is an interesting one with many citing the success of Jetgo and Air North on thin regional routes at the expense of the majors. The problem for the majors is their cost structures. The salary structures are such that it would require higher air fares to make it viable where carriers like Air North and Jetgo have a lower salary structure which makes some routes technically financially viable. For those who remember Kendal under Ansett ownership used the Canadair Regional Jet until its demise. It is importantly to also recognise that the Qantaslink B717s are crewed and supported maintenance wise (at the airport) by Cobham which Qantas has said makes the aircraft profitable. Case in point is the Hobart route. Unprofitable with QF B738 but profitable with the B717. Also the use if Network F100s for some Qantaslink routes in WA is another example.

    Australia is not alone here. In the US, due to crew costs, the airlines use airlines like Skywest to provide feeder services and on routes where it is unprofitable for the majors and larger aircraft or crew the aircraft themselves. In Europe, Lufthansa is similar bt has bought small regional airlines such as Air Dolomiti.

  • Random


    You are exactly correct about feeder airlines, particularly in the U.S. – but a multitude of these airlines work this class of aircraft, often on long thin routes. SkyWest, Republic, Compass, Mesa and several others all have considerable fleets of 70 seat jets (40 or more aircraft in service). It just seems odd that in Australia, a country with many long thin routes (by virtue of our landmass and population), including many direct connections that are currently not serviced, that our airlines have avoided equipping for and developing this market.

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