A few tidbits of news concerning flights to Australia this week, all of them good for the consumer.
First up, V Australia is finally ready to start operations. They were originally supposed to start up a few months ago during the peak southern hemisphere summer season, but thanks to the Boeing strike they couldn’t get their plane delivered in time. But that’s all behind us now, and they have their first 777-300ER fully loaded with three classes of service – business, premium economy and economy – and ready to fly. They are starting service this Thursday, with 3x weekly service between Sydney and Los Angeles. Service will go to daily in a few weeks when they receive their second plane. Additional service between Brisbane and Los Angeles will start in April and Melbourne is coming in September (both also dependant on receiving additional planes).
If that isn’t enough to drive some competition on the USA-Oz routes, Delta’s planned start of service between Los Angeles and Sydney on July 1 is certainly going to do so. Delta is going to be flying with a 777-200LR. The plane certainly has the range, but they only have 276 seats on the plane. A 777-300LR has 75-100 more seats on it, and the 747s that United and Qantas use have close to 400 as well. And then there are the Qantas A380s that are running on the route, with 450 seats and even more cargo capacity. I have no idea how Delta is going to be competitive in such a market. They have fewer seats to spread the fixed costs over and the fixed costs on such a route are VERY high. But the net result remains the same – cheaper prices for customers and now all three alliances will have service between the USA and Oz.
Last up on the this this morning is an interesting report that came out yesterday regarding potential changes in trans-Tasman service. The New Zealand and Australian governments have apparently agreed to streamline the operations for immigration, customs and quarantine for the short hops between their countries. This is apparently expected to help ease the travel experience and, according to some carriers, cut ticket costs by as much as 30% on those routes. From the article:
Quarantine, security and immigration issues have to be addressed to make the route a common border, The Sydney Morning Herald website said.
An Open Skies bilateral agreement is already in place, relaxing the rules for carriers flying between the two countries.
After two years of discussions, Australian and New Zealand Customs are planning trials to clear passengers before they board flights between the countries.
Sure, none of this is as cool as the crazy Los Angeles – Honolulu – San Francisco – Sydney round trip flights for $600 (I really wish I had bought one or two of those), but it is still all great news for folks headed to or from Australia. Oh, and there are still plenty of great deals to be had for flights ex-Sydney, thanks to the V Australia fares. Enjoy.
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Regarding Delta’s cost structure disadvantage because they’re flying the smaller plane (777-200LR):
1. Only SkyTeam provider so that will drive some traffic to them.
2. Australia-US fares have traditionally been *very* high especially in premium cabins. Unless a price war erupts, Delta could still ring a profit, even if their competitors make more.
3. Is there anything precluding the 777-200LR being a trial balloon for Delta to be upgraded to a 747-400 service or 2x daily 787 service in 2010 once they get traction and build loyalty?
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