Royal Brunei reduces Melbourne-London transit times, offers attractive fares

Royal Brunei Airlines is significantly reducing Melbourne-London transit times as it launches nonstop flights from Brunei to London and reschedules its Melbourne flights.


Summary

  • Royal Brunei Airlines is reducing transit times from Melbourne to London in late Oct-2018 to only 23 hours following the introduction of nonstop flights on the Brunei-London route;
  • Royal Brunei currently has a two-stop product from Melbourne to London, resulting in a transit time of over 27 hours as stops in both Brunei and Dubai are required;
  • Transit times from London to Melbourne will be longer due to a longer layover in Brunei but still an improvement compared to the current schedule;
  • Royal Brunei prices aggressively in the Melbourne-London market, with economy return fares starting at less than AUD1,000 including taxes and business class fares starting at less than AUD5,000.

Royal Brunei announced on 22-May-2018 plans to launch daily flights from Brunei to London on 27-Oct-2018, replacing its current daily one-stop Brunei-Dubai-London service. At the same time Royal Brunei plans to reschedule its Melbourne-Brunei flights.

The announcement does not come as a surprise. Blue Swan exclusively reported on 16-Feb-2018 that “Royal Brunei Airlines is inching closer to the launch of nonstop services on the Brunei-London Heathrow route, resulting in a one-stop product in the Melbourne-London market, following the signing of a contract for 787-8 crew bunk retrofits.”

See related report: Royal Brunei Airlines could launch nonstop flights to London following 787 crew bunk retrofit

Royal Brunei is already a relatively large competitor in the Melbourne-London market, capturing over 10% market share, despite its current two-stop product. By introducing a one-stop product Royal Brunei should be able to improve its market share and yield. A quicker transit time is particularly important for premium and corporate traffic.

Royal Brunei’s current Melbourne flights connect relatively well with London, offering layovers of two to three hours in Brunei. However, Royal Brunei had to change its London timings to accommodate the new nonstop flight, necessitating a change in Melbourne.

The current departure time from Melbourne is slightly after noon, landing in Brunei at 525pm or slightly more than two hours before the current London departure. The new departure from Melbourne is 640pm, landing in Bander Seri Begawan at 1040pm, providing an even shorter connection time of 1hr35mins to the new London departure.

The departure from Brunei to Melbourne is now 8pm, resulting in a 2hr30min layover from the current London-Brunei flight. The new departure time will be 7pm. This will result in longer layover of 4hr20mins from the new London-Brunei flight but still a faster overall transit time.

The new London nonstop will depart Brunei just after midnight and land in Heathrow at 650am. The current flight departs Brunei at 750pm and lands at Heathrow at 555am following a 90min stop in Dubai.

From London Heathrow the new nonstop flight will depart at 505pm and land in Brunei at 240pm. The current flight leaves London at 545pm and lands at Brunei at 530pm after a 1hr30min stop in Dubai.

Under the new schedule, Royal Brunei is offering a total transit time of 23hr10mins from Melbourne and 24hr55mins from London. Under the current schedule, the total transit time is 27hr10mins from Melbourne and 26hr15mins from London

The fastest Melbourne-London transit time on any airline is about 22hrs in each direction. Royal Brunei will therefore be within about one hour of the fastest transit time from Melbourne to London and within about four hours of the fastest transit time from London to Melbourne. Currently its two-stop option is several hours slower and therefore not competitive.

Royal Brunei’s economy fares in the Melbourne-London market start at less than AUD1000 return including taxes. It now often has the lowest fare in the market, which is necessary given its two-stop product and the fact Royal Brunei does not have a strong brand or is part of a global alliance.

Royal Brunei is also currently offering Melbourne-London return fares below AUD1000 in Nov-2018, the first full month featuring the new schedule with reduced transit times. The new schedule should help Royal Brunei attract more Melbourne-London traffic. Royal Brunei is also planning to introduce improvements to its long haul product – which will be announced later – ahead of the launch of nonstop London flights.

The Melbourne-London market is extremely competitive. Philippine Airlines also currently offer economy fares below AUD1000 and on some days is even cheaper than Royal Brunei. Several other airlines are only slightly more expensive. For example, Emirates, China Southern and Malaysia Airlines are now offering fares in Nov-2018 that start at about AUD1100 while British Airways, Etihad, Qantas, Qatar Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines have fares that start at about AUD1200.

Royal Brunei also has among the lowest business class fares in the Melbourne-London market with starting at less than AUD5000 including taxes. Royal Brunei offers lie flat seats on its 787s but the fact it does not serve alcoholic beverages obviously dissuades some passengers.