More nonstop Qantas flights from Perth to London and Europe could emerge as passengers flock to nonstops to avoid stopping in South East Asia.
According to a report by Linus Bauer, Managing Consultant at Bauer Aviation Advisory, in the next 24-36 months, the majority of health-conscious travellers will favour direct flights more than one-stop journeys via South East Asia or the Gulf, leading to possible higher willingness-to-pay in all cabin classes and thus spike in demand for an additional Perth-London service.
“Qantas’ launch of the Perth-London service in 2018 has exceeded all expectations, by capturing a significant market share of 24 per cent in the first year of its operations, claiming average load factors above 90 per cent, and achieving the highest net promoter scores in its entire network,” said Mr Bauer.
“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).”
Mr Bauer adds that the other issue with the transit stop model could be “the implementation of additional health and safety-related measures (for in-transit passengers) could cause larger complexity and thus increasing costs.”
“The (COVID-19) crisis could be also seen as a trigger for an early phase-out of older/large aircraft and the acquisition of newer aircraft with long-range capabilities and lower cabin density.”
Mr Bauer says it could lead to new market opportunities for airlines, like British Airways (and Qantas) with its heavy premium configuration on 787s, to bypass hubs on thin routes.
The report, published on the City University London website, makes a big play of Perth as a gateway to Australia.
“After the launch of Qantas’ service, Perth has become an increasingly important and viable gateway for ULH (Ultra-Long Haul) operations between Australia and the UK to date.”
Qantas’s plan was to introduce Perth to Paris and Perth to Frankfurt nonstop flights but they were put on hold after a dispute flared with Perth Airport over passenger charges.
That dispute may be thawing.
Mr Bauer adds that “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.”.
“Having a large and diverse domestic market is one of the competitive advantages for Qantas. The strong historical ties between both countries on many levels may lead to an ease of restrictions for direct travelling in the near future.”
“The Perth-London route may be one of the first reactivated routes in Qantas’ international network. However, the establishment of an ‘air travel bubble’ largely depends on the development of the severity and spread of COVID-19 in both countries in the upcoming months.”
In the post-crisis era, new opportunities for Qantas arise says Mr Bauer.
“Launch of new services between Australia and Europe/U.S., driven by factors including the change in consumer behaviours, the geographical location of cities, deployment of efficient aircraft, ongoing travel restrictions and thus increasing demand for direct and domestic feeder services.”