Qantas has suspended the future growth plans of its western hub because Perth Airport refuses to allow it to use its new T3 international wing for its proposed South Africa service.
Speaking to analysts on Wednesday Qantas chief executive said that “the concept of a western hub is a great one, it has great viability, we just need a cooperative airport to help expand it.”
“We’re obviously keeping Perth-London [non-stop] going but we’re suspending all other growth options until we have resolution on that [Perth- Johannesburg] issue.”
Qantas wants to operate four-times-weekly seasonal service between Perth and Johannesburg, to start in December from its new T3 international precinct whereas Perth Airport wishes the airline to use T1 – the main international terminal on the other side of the airport.
Qantas argues that it wants passengers from around WA and Australia to connect seamlessly with the proposed flight.
In late 2016, the state government brokered a deal between the airport and Qantas when it tipped in A$14 million to establish the international wing at the T3 / T4 complex where all the airline’s domestic flights operate.
That deal gave the green light for the Perth to London non-stop and also included the proposed Paris and Frankfurt or Berlin non-stops, the airline’s double-daily Singapore and seasonal Auckland flights.
A Perth Airport spokesman said, “we remain happy to talk to Qantas about getting the part-time Johannesburg flights going as soon as possible through T1 International, where 18 other international carriers operate.”
The spokesman added that “Perth Airport and the State needs to keep its focus firmly on developing new direct service routes to the growth areas of Asia.”
“With more than 4 billion people on our doorstep in Asian region, Tokyo, Shanghai and Mumbai offer enormous opportunities for WA.”
“This is why we will need to expand T1 International and why it is crucial to the State’s future economic prosperity.”
“We will deliver the tourism sector and the economy a greater return by prioritizing the development of new routes, as opposed to the – at best – marginal benefits of adding limited additional flights to existing routes on a seasonal basis,” the spokesman said.
However, industry observers say that during the proposed expansion of T1, the airport will lose at least two gates and might be struggling to handle additional Qantas flights.