Qantas Freight expands its global reach
30 / 09 / 2013
BIG CHANGES have been afoot in Qantas Freight. The division has changed its European strategy, bought out its partner in a domestic joint venture, and introduced new technology. And all this has been achieved in just one year.
One of the more surprising changes is that the European hub for Qantas Freight is now in Dubai. That is because in September 2012 the parent carrier announced a major re-alignment of its European business in the shape of a 10-year partnership with Emirates.
When this came into effect on 31 March, the carrier switched the intermediate stop on its two daily A380 flights to London – one from Sydney and the other from Melbourne – from Singapore to Dubai.
There, it not only has access to Emirates’ new all-A380 Terminal 3, but can offer connections to 65 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. One-stop European connections were boos-ted from five to more than 30 by the deal, and the carrier says the first nine weeks it was in place saw a six-fold increase in Qantas’ passenger bookings to mainland Europe com-pared to the same period last year.
For cargo, the change is from trucking cargo to and from Frankfurt (where Qantas flights have now been discontinued) to having direct connections to destinations throughout Europe. The carrier has even relocated its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) manager to Dubai.
Lisa Brock, executive manager of Qantas Freight says that “Europe has become much easier for us now” as a result of the deal, adding that it has produced “lots of new opportunities”. Not all of those are west of Dubai. The carrier has also, for example, been moving cargo on Emirates services to Phuket to connect with its flights from there to Sydney.
It must help that an increasing proportion of the onward destinations Emirates can offer will be served by A380s. As one of the key operators of the aircraft, Brock pronounces it very satisfactory for cargo, noting that capacity is pretty similar to that of the B747-400s it replaced. It helps that Qantas’s configuration of the ‘planes is less passenger dense than on some other carriers.
Important though the Emirates deal is, however, Brock admits that having just two daily belly flights makes Qantas Freight something of a niche player in Europe. Far more important to the cargo business are its B747-400 freighter flights to the USA.
Since air exports from Australia are largely confined to perishables, with most of the demand being on the import side, Qantas flies its freighters eastbound via China. For example, two B747-400Fs a week go to Bangkok and Shanghai and on to the USA, and another – started in April 2012 – goes via Chongqing.
Once in the US, the freighters call at New York, Chicago and then Los Angeles before returning to Sydney via a tech-stop in Honolulu. They also fly round-trip flights from Sydney to both Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Qantas claims a five per cent share of the eastbound air cargo market between China and the US, but it is a market that has been get-ting tougher in recent years, as belly capacity across the Pacific has increased. Brock admits that there is such a trend, but says Qantas has no plans to change its freighter schedules.