Linus Bauer, managing consultant at Bauer Aviation Advisory, said that the influence of the COVID-19 outbreak will prove a boon for Qantas’ “ultra-long haul” (ULH) direct flights between Perth and London, and suggested that the West Australian capital could emerge as a key intercontinental hub over the next two-three years.
In a report published by City University London, Bauer claims that health-conscious travellers will favour direct flights more than journeys laying over in south-east Asia or the Gulf. He suggests that this will likely lead to a spike in demand across cabin classes for the direct Kangaroo Route service, and even a potential “additional Perth-London service”.
“The option of bypassing a hub in the area of an outbreak can be considered as one of the additional sources of demand for direct services, driven by the fast-changing behaviour of health-conscious corporate and travellers visiting friends and relatives (VFR),” he said.
Bauer also pointed out that the implementation of additional biosecurity and screening measures at transit points could cause ticket prices to increase, making direct transcontinental flights even more attractive.
Qantas previously hoped to expand direct ULH offerings from the WA capital to include Paris, Frankfurt and Johannesburg. However, these plans were put on hold in 2019 after disputes between the airline and Perth International Airport – which culminated in a lawsuit levelled against Qantas in a state court.
“Perth’s geographical location is one of the key benefits speaking for the establishment of a hub in Western Australia, the so-called ‘door to Australia’ by providing a large domestic network for feeder traffic,” Bauer said.
“In the post-crisis era, new opportunities for Qantas arise: Launch of new services between Australia and Europe/US, driven by factors including the change in consumer behaviours, geographical location of cities, deployment of efficient aircraft, ongoing travel restrictions and thus increasing demand for direct and domestic feeder services.”