Qantas faces twin challenges from Asia this week as Singapore Airlines’ low-cost offshoot Scoot launches flights to Sydney and China Southern cranks up its “Canton Route” to London.
Scoot tomorrow launches daily flights from Sydney and next week five-times-a-week services from the Gold Coast using Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
It is promising fares 40 per cent below full-service airlines that include taxes and surcharges but not “ancillary” items such as meals, drinks, entertainment and checked luggage.
Its arrival heralds another player in the already competitive long-haul, low-cost carrier market to Australia serviced by Jetstar International and AirAsiaX.
It also gives Singapore Airlines, which flies full-service flights to major Australian airports and is a major stakeholder in Tiger Airways Australia, an additional foothold in the market.
China Southern has already been promoting its “Canton Route” alternative to the Qantas “Kangaroo Route” to Europe with low fares via its Guangzhou hub. These include return economy fares from the east coast to London as low as $1500 and business-class fares from $5066.
It says travel time to London is as low as 26 hours, including the stopover in Guangzhou, equivalent to travel through other Asian hubs such as Singapore and Bangkok.
While the airline offers just three services on the route a week, which is below the daily service threshold generally seen as essential for business traffic, it has been recruiting Australian crew and has said it wants to triple its services to Australia.
It currently operates 11 flights a week between Sydney and Guangzhou, 10 from Melbourne.
The move comes as Australia sees big increases in tourism from China.