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Qantas revs up international network with more flights, new routes, and additional aircraft

Qantas is shifting into high gear as the aviation industry continues to recover, announcing a major boost to its international network starting from late October 2023.

In response to strong travel demand, Qantas is increasing its capacity by adding approximately one million seats to its international network over the next year. These additional seats will offer travellers more options to popular destinations across Asia, the United States, and the Pacific.

A combo of strategies are in play to achieve this: more Qantas aircraft returning to service, new aircraft joining the fleet, and an arrangement with oneworld partner Finnair to operate two Airbus A330s on two Qantas routes.

This network expansion is a huge stride forward from the 44% of pre-COVID levels just 12 months ago. By March 2024, Qantas aims to reach about 100% of its pre-COVID international capacity, up from today’s 84%.

Much of the announced increase in flights will be handled by the 2,400 pilots and cabin crew Qantas has hired since borders reopened. To meet the expected surge in demand, the airline plans to recruit another 300 people by year’s end.

Over the past six months, Qantas has reactivated five international aircraft – some from long-term storage, and others that were held in reserve as the industry stabilised. May saw a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner joining the fleet, with two more expected next month.

Meanwhile, the latest Qantas A380 was dusted off and reactivated in January, with an additional A380 returning to service at the year’s end after undergoing maintenance and cabin modifications.

Notably, Qantas will be resuming flights to San Francisco next week and launching its first-ever service from Sydney to New York via Auckland the following month. Seasonal services to Rome and flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong are slated to return in June.

Route upgrades

Qantas will boost flying on the following routes from 29 October 2023:

  • Melbourne – Los Angeles: Flights will increase from daily to nine per week, bumping capacity by around 60 per cent, primarily through more A380 flights.
  • Sydney – New York via Auckland: Flight frequency will increase from three to four per week.
  • Australia to Tokyo: Flights will double from 14 to 28 per week, offering the choice of four daily flights to Japan from 26 November.
    • Sydney – Tokyo will increase from daily to double daily.
    • Melbourne – Tokyo will increase from four per week to daily.
    • Brisbane – Tokyo will increase from three per week to daily.
    • Melbourne and Brisbane services to Tokyo will shift to Narita Airport.
  • Sydney – Shanghai: Daily A330 flights will be introduced for the first time in more than three years.
  • Sydney – Hong Kong: Capacity will increase by over 50% for the peak Australian summer season, with daily flights being operated by a mix of A380 and A330 aircraft.
  • Melbourne – Hong Kong: Flights will increase from four per week to daily.
  • Melbourne – Singapore: Flights will increase from 10 to 14 per week starting from 31 March 2024.
  • Sydney – Singapore: Flights will increase from 14 to 15 per week starting from 31 March 2024.
  • Melbourne – Delhi: Flights will increase from three to six per week over the peak Australian summer season.
  • Brisbane – Wellington: This is a new daily route, to be operated with E190 aircraft.
  • Brisbane – Honiara, Solomon Islands: This new route will operate three days per week with E190 aircraft.
  • Sydney – Christchurch: Flights will increase from 11 to 14 per week.
  • Sydney – Queenstown: Flights will increase by up to one per week, with up to 14 flights over the peak Australian summer season.

For those eager to get booking, tickets for the new services are progressively available starting from today, either directly at or through travel agents.

Customers who have bookings impacted by schedule changes will be contacted directly soon.

Finnair partnership

As part of the arrangement with Finnair, Qantas will be leveraging two Finnair A330 aircraft for flights between Sydney and Singapore starting late October, and for all flights between Sydney and Bangkok from late March 2024.

This move will allow Qantas to free up its own aircraft and crew to bolster services elsewhere.

For the first two-and-a-half years of this agreement, the flights will be operated by Finnair pilots and cabin crew. However, you’ll still get to enjoy Qantas’ inflight food and beverage service, amenities, inflight entertainment, and baggage allowance.

From late 2025, the plan is to dry lease these two Finnair A330s, meaning they’ll operate for up to three years with Qantas pilots and cabin crew. This not only creates new jobs but also opens up more promotional opportunities within Qantas, boosting their capacity even further.

Reward seats

The question all Qantas Points holders want to know is whether this will result in more reward seats being available.

Usually, when Qantas puts new flights into the schedule, it includes reward seats.

So, get your suitcases dusted off and start planning your next adventure – but you’ll need to keep a close eye on Qantas’ website and snap up the seats as soon as they are released.

Safe travels!

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