There was a sign of life from Qantas regarding its international services today. The Australian airline announced it wanted to team up with Japan Airlines on flights between Australia and Japan from July 2021. Qantas has applied to local regulatory authorities to form a joint venture with Japan Airlines, asking to upgrade the existing relationship and even suggesting a new route is on the radar.
A sudden burst of activity from Qantas International
Aside from some repatriation flights and some recent New Zealand services, Qantas’ international services have been largely dormant since March. The airline has flagged mid-2021 as tentative resumption date for some international services. But today’s announcement is the first burst of activity to come from Qantas regarding its international services in quite some time.
Qantas has a longstanding relationship with its Japan Airlines OneWorld partner. Both airlines have long plied the routes between Australia and Japan without standing on each other’s toes. Both airlines also took stakes setting up Jetstar Japan ten years ago.
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Qantas and Japan Airlines already have a big slice of the pie
Over 2019, Australian Government statistics reveal 1,562,465 passengers flew between Australia and Japan. There were 6,698 direct flights on offer. After a significant boom in previous generations, traffic between the two countries had stagnated for time. However, there was a noticeable uptick in both flights and passenger numbers between the two countries in recent years.
Last year, Qantas, Jetstar, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airlines plied the skies between Australia and Japan. Virgin Australia was set to begin flights between Brisbane and Haneda earlier this year.
Between them, Qantas and Japan Airlines carried 914,226 passengers on flights between Australia and Japan. Qantas connected Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to Tokyo and Sydney to both Osaka and Sapporo. Japan Airlines flew from both Sydney and Melbourne to Tokyo.
Qantas carried 679,189 passengers (or 43.5% of total passenger numbers) on flights between Australia and Japan last year. Japan Airlines carried 234,037 passengers (or 15% of total passenger numbers) back and forth to Australia last year. Between them, the two OneWorld airlines had a tidy 58.5% market share.