Qantas to start seasonal Sydney-Sapporo service in time for Christmas

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 18, 2019
A Qantas Airbus A330-200 takes off from Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
A Qantas Airbus A330-200 takes off from Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Qantas says it will add a third Japanese destination to its international network in December when it begins seasonal nonstop flights between Sydney and Sapporo.

The new three-times-a-week service with Airbus A330 equipment has been scheduled to commence on December 16 2019 and run until March 28 2020, Qantas said on Thursday.

Sapporo, located in northern Japan on the island of Hokkaido, is a popular skiing destination during the winter months.

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Currently, Qantas has four nonstop services between Australia and Japan – Brisbane-Tokyo Narita, Melbourne-Tokyo Narita, Sydney-Osaka Kansai and Sydney-Tokyo Haneda.

Its low-cost carrier (LCC) wing Jetstar also serves Osaka Kansai from Cairns and the Gold Coast, as well as Tokyo Narita from the Gold Coast.

Qantas international acting chief executive Naren Kumar said travel between Australia and Japan was booming.

“The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with almost 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone,” Kumar said in a statement.

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“We expect Japan’s popularity to continue with the country hosting a number of major international sporting events in the next two years.

Kumar, who was appointed acting chief executive of the airline’s international business following the resignation of Alison Webster earlier in April, said Qantas would also offer domestic connections beyond Sapporo on Jetstar Japan.

Flight schedules from the Qantas website showed the new nonstop flight would operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the QF39 timed to depart Sydney at 0930 and arrive at Sapporo New Chitose Airport 11 hours and five minutes later at 1835 local time.

The reciprocal QF40 is scheduled as an overnight service that takes off from Sapporo at 2005 and lands at Sydney 0905 the following morning.

The schedules on the Qantas website showed the flights would be served with A330-200s during the initial week of operation.

The airline has 18 Airbus A330-200s that feature three different cabin configurations. Two aircraft have 36 business and 199 economy seats for a total of 235, 10 aircraft have 28 business and 243 economy for a total of 271 and six aircraft with 27 business and 224 economy seats for a total of 251, according to the Qantas website.

Meanwhile, Qantas has 10 of the larger A330-300s, which have 28 business and 269 economy seats for a total of 297.

The A330 (here a -300) is the most numerous widebody in the Qantas fleet. (Seth Jaworski)
The A330 (here a -300) is the most numerous widebody in the Qantas fleet. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas’s Sydney-Sapporo flights will commence three months after Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) launches a daily Perth-Tokyo Narita nonstop service on September 1.

It will be ANA’s second destination in Australia, having commenced nonstop Sydney-Tokyo Haneda flights in December 2015.

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-9 featuring Star Wars livery touches down in Sydney in December 2015. (Rob Finlayson)
All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-9 featuring Star Wars livery touches down in Sydney in December 2015. (Rob Finlayson)

The fourth airline with nonstop flights in the Australia-Japan market is Japan Airlines, which serves Melbourne and Sydney from Tokyo Narita.

Japan Airlines inaugural flight to Melbourne on September 1 2017. (Victor Pody)
Japan Airlines inaugural flight to Melbourne on September 1 2017. (Victor Pody)

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed 1.44 million passengers travelled on nonstop flights between Australia and Japan in 2017/18, up 10.8 per cent from 1.30 million in the prior year.

Similarly, capacity measured by available seats rose 9.36 per cent to 1.76 million. With demand growing faster than capacity, average load factors – an industry term measuring how full flights are – increased 1.1 percentage points to 82.4 per cent.

Japan is Australia’s 10th largest international passenger market, based on the BITRE uplift and discharge data.

While encouraging, the numbers are still some distance short of the heady levels reached in the 1990s when there were more than 2.5 million seats a year between Australia and Japan, with Qantas the dominant carrier on the route.

In 1999, total seat capacity was still about two million.

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8 Comments

  • Lechuga

    says:

    Interesting, yet as usual with Qantas it’s just another diversion to Sydney first, no thanks.
    Rather go directly to Tokyo and go from there.

  • David

    says:

    Good news. Would like to see it return as a year round service. There must be more than just winter activities there.

  • Corey

    says:

    @ Australian Aviation I think you have a Type with this paragraph

    “Flight schedules from the Qantas website showed the new nonstop flight would operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, with the QF39 timed to depart Sydney at 0930 and arrive at Sapporo New Chitose Airport 11 hours and five minutes later at 1835 local time.” Are you sure it’s 11-hour flight because 0930-18-35 is a 9hr and 5 min difference, not 11 hours? I’m no expert and I know Japan is roughly in the same time zone 1-2 hour behind Canberra, but hey I could be wrong.

  • kurt

    says:

    Which would you have it, Melbourne first? There is no competition just business. Would you have Delta not use Atlanta as their first and foremost hub or British Airways with London? I am from Melbourne and even I know this. Most Sydney siders wouldn’t blink an eye if Qantas was more Melbourne centric, so whats the underlining beef every time a new air route starts from Sydney, with either a cry of “is Melbourne next” or “Sydney diversion again” no thanks?

  • Brett Yuile

    says:

    Perhaps Qantas is losing market share because they expect everyone to travel to Sydney first before starting their journey to where they REALLY want to go. I avoid QANTAS all the time and fly with an airline that makes the journey easier for me than them.

  • Red Cee

    says:

    I personally see nothing wrong with going via Sydney, and I am from Queensland. If I am flying to say Las Vegas in the US, I currently can’t do it in one hit, I have to transfer in another US city. How would Lechuga feel if he had to transfer in say Cairns, which would also be a logical port, as it is on the way.

  • Kim

    says:

    Still no Qantas International flights from Adelaide (ADL). Can empathize with Phillip Adams being left out of the CL.

  • John

    says:

    Back in 2006, the Transfer WAS in Cairns . Qantas now closed budget Airline , Australian Airlines flew 767s from CNS to CTS direct .

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