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Qantas Eyes Japan Routes?

An interesting tidbit was revealed during the Q&A session following a speech by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last week. He seemed to suggest that the success of the Jetstar joint-venture franchise established in Japan makes it more likely that Qantas (or more likely its Australia-based Jetstar subsidiary) will begin new direct flights between Australia and Japan using Boeing 787s.

Joyce was speaking at a business lunch in Brisbane on Oct. 18. Most of the headlines came from Joyce’s reiteration of Qantas’ opposition to paying more airport charges to support a second runway for Brisbane Airport. However, the Japan comments give an interesting insight into the carrier’s ambitions for that market.

(ADDED: Jetstar already flies direct from Cairns and Gold Coast to Tokyo, and Qantas flies from Sydney to Tokyo).

The question came from a member of the Queensland and Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  He asked about the possibility of direct flights between Brisbane and Japan.

Here is Joyce’s response:

We're always keen on keeping an eye on opportunities for new flights. And, as I said, the Jetstar experience in the Japanese market has been phenomenally positive and I think that will allow us to look at more opportunities going forward into this market.

And I think of what happened in Singapore is a great example of that. In Singapore, we now have 17 [Jetstar Asia] aircraft operating into Asia with a massive network. And that's allowed us to expand long-haul operations from Australia to Singapore. Last year we started Melbourne to Singapore and Auckland-Singapore services with the potential for us to grow that even further.

I think the same thing will happen in the Japanese market with the opportunity for us to open up more direct services from Australia into Japan. It will be dependent on the economics of the 787, but the 787 also opens up a range of routes where the economics didn't work before.

And so I think if we see an opportunity there where the business case works where a Japanese [market] presence allows us to put more long-haul operations in, which I think we will, and the 787s make the economics work, we will be putting those services in. [Although] there's nothing on the radar screen at the moment.

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