In light of the recent truce between Perth Airport and Qantas, is it possible that the Australian flag-carrier could once more consider scheduling non-stop routes to Paris and Frankfurt from the Western Australian city? Particularly, as the much-anticipated Project Sunrise is now on hold. Let’s take a look.
Dispute momentarily defused
The previously escalating stand-off between Qantas and Perth Airport seems to have been defused. Or, at the very least, the two parties have called for a momentary cease-fire. Could this mean that the airline might once more consider flights from the Western Australian city to the two European destinations it has previously looked at?
As the much-publicized and debated Project Sunrise mission has been put on ice due to the repercussions of the pandemic, it would make sense if Qantas were to turn its eye back to Paris and Frankfurt as potential non-stop European destinations. Albeit from the west of Australia, rather than the east.
The acute disagreement over unpaid fees since February that led Perth to serve Qantas with lease termination notices earlier this month may have been disarmed. However, there is still the ongoing court case Perth filed against Qantas back in December 2019 over previous unpaid landing fees.
The conflict between the carrier and the airport has been cause for plans for an extension of the non-stop European network (which so far, quite successfully with a 98% load factor, consists of Perth to London) to be put on hold.
Would have, but for the conflict
As reported by Executive Traveler, almost one year ago, on June 3rd, 2019, at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Seoul, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said,
“Today, we would be in the process of preparing for further services out of Perth into Europe – we would be ordering aircraft to do Perth to Paris, which would be the next one on our list, except for the fact that there’s a dispute with Perth Airport. We’ll be very excited about doing Perth-Paris as the next cab off the rank.”
He also stated that Germany was a big market that had been hard for Qantas to profit from when it flew to Frankfurt via a hub, making a stop in Singapore, before cutting the route from its network in 2013. A new non-stop route to the country was, therefore, on the cards, with Frankfurt once more on the short-list of potential candidates.
Johannesburg scrapped due to terminal switch
A year before that, at IATA’s annual general meeting in Sydney 2018, Qantas confirmed it had scrapped plans for flights between Perth and Johannesburg due to the conflict over terminals. Perth Airport insisted the seasonal Johannesburg route be operated from the main international Terminal 1.
Qantas, on the other hand, wanted to fly to South Africa from the newly developed international wing of its domestic T3/T4 terminal. This would have made for easy connections in both directions, but Perth Airport had other plans.
It has since retaken the lease for T4 from Qantas, and the costs for said upgrades have become part of the ongoing dispute.
Not rewarding “bad behavior”
As Qantas CEO Joyce said, according to Executive Traveler, about the ongoing court case back in June last year,
“Until that’s resolved, we’re not going to reward bad behavior. We don’t think that’s the right thing to do with our business, so, unfortunately, we’re not expanding (out of Perth) at the moment.”
Let us hope that the two adversaries will have reached a long-term peace agreement by the time long-haul international travel to and from the Australian continent is back on the boarding cards. Which, according to estimates, could be sometime next year.
What do you think, when could we potentially see the next non-stop Australia to Europe route? Let us know in the comments.