News Briefs

Qantas redeploys widebodies from domestic to Asia

CAPA – Centre for Aviation, in a report entitled ‘Qantas’ Asian transformation relaunching Beijing & Melbourne-Tokyo; highest Asian activity ever’ has noted (06-Feb-2017) that Qantas’ growing Asia presence is made possible by redeploying widebody aircraft from the domestic market to international sectors.

At the peak in 2014, 93% of Qantas’ east-west routes to/from Perth were operated with widebodies. In 1Q2017 this decreased to 72%. There are 4% fewer Qantas east-west flights in 1Q2017 than 1Q2014, so there is an overall capacity reduction with fewer services and the use of smaller aircraft.

Widebody utilisation also became available as narrowbodies were removed from ‘Triangle’ services between Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Widebody usage rose from a low point in 1Q2015, but 1Q2017 levels are still well below pre-1Q2015 levels.

Widebodies are used on 11% of Qantas ‘Triangle’ services in 1Q2017, up from 7% in 1Q2015 but below a peak of 49% in 1Q2011. There are one quarter as many widebody ‘Triangle’ services in 1Q2017 as 1Q2011. Unlike the east-west market, overall ‘Triangle’ frequency increased, offset by use of smaller aircraft.

The report also predicted that Qantas will operate more services to Asia on its mainline operation (excluding Jetstar Group) in 1Q2017 than any time this decade. Qantas will operate 12% more flights to Asia in 1Q2017 than in 1Q2016, which surpassed 1Q2011 for a recent record.


SPTO outlines plan for sustainable tourism

South Pacific Tourism Organisation outlined (13-Feb-2017) policies, business practices and consumer behaviour required for the introduction of ‘sustainable tourism’ in the region:

  • Protection of the natural environment to ensure the sustainability of destinations as tourism products, in particular maintaining land and marine assets;
  • Introduction of practices that ensure key players in the region, including hoteliers and other members of the private sector, are at the forefront of protecting regional assets, as well as responding to natural disasters and hazards;
  • Conservation of culture and heritage, which remains a niche tourism product.


Merimbula runway upgrade impacts Rex expansion

Regional Express (Rex) general manager of network strategy Warrick Lodge responded to Bega Valley Shire Council, warning Sydney-Merimbula service would be “severely downgraded, if not withdrawn” if the Council goes ahead with its “cavalier exercise” to upgrade the runway at Merimbula Airport and add passenger charges to help fund the development (ABC, 14-Feb-2017).

The carrier also said Melbourne-Merimbula service may be suspended. Bega Valley Shire Council received AUD7.8 million (USD6 million) in funding to extend the runway and make other improvements to allow it to handle larger aircraft.

Mr Lodge warned the Council that should it increase passenger charges, Rex would use its “coveted” morning and evening slots at Sydney Airport to serve “other more deserving regional cities, and simply service Merimbula with one or two middle-of-the-day services.”

Rex believes a runway extension is not necessary and will result in an additional cost burden in terms of depreciation, operations and maintenance.

Merimbula Mayor Kristy McBain said there are no current plans to increase passenger charges.


China Fiji tourism initiative

Fliggy VP Duan Dongdong met with Tourism Fiji CEO Matthew Stoeckel and Rosie Holidays MD Tony Whitton to discuss possibilities for the ChinaFiji tourism market and sign an MoU between the Alibaba Group and Tourism Fiji to promote and market Fiji Airways and Fiji Holiday packages on the travel portal (, 14-Feb-2017). The initial MoU is to be followed by the development of a ‘Fiji Tourism Pavilion’ on the youth focused Fliggy travel site.

Tourism Fiji CEO Matthew Stoeckel said the authority is “very focused on China as a priority long haul destination” (, 14-Feb-2017). Chinese arrivals to Fiji rose 23% year-on-year in 2016, to almost 50,000.


Wellington Airport closes bond offer 

Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) announced (14-Feb-2017) the closure of its offer of unsecured, unsubordinated, fixed rate bonds. USD50 million of bonds were allocated to institutional and retail investors with final allotment on 17-Feb-2017.