Carry on: Canada, Japan boost Down Under flights
Canada and Japan, two countries where Air New Zealand has monopoly routes, are stepping up their interest indirect flights to Australia.
Air Canada will begin non-stop flights from Vancouver to Brisbane from June 17, 2016; initially three times weekly using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners but eventually increasing to a daily service.
Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance, which also includes Air New Zealand, and is unlikely to fly to Auckland except under an agreement with Air New Zealand.
Queensland’s Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Kate Jones, says this first direct flight between Queensland and Canada is expected to inject up to $24 million in visitor expenditure each year and attract an extra 12,000 international visitors.
Air Canada president and chief executive Calin Rovinescu says the new route comes at a time when trade and travel between North America and the Asia Pacific region is growing.
“A further boost is expected from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) now under negotiation,” he says.
Approval for Sydney-San Francisco flights
Meanwhile, Qantas and partner American Airlines are returning to the trans-Pacific route with new direct flights from San Francisco to Sydney.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given temporary approval for flights from December 18, ending the need for Australian travellers to connect through Los Angeles or Auckland (on Air New Zealand’s direct flights).
Air New Zealand lodged its opposition to the ACCC but Qantas is already taking bookings, suggesting full approval is just a formality.
Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans welcomed the ACCC’s decision as it will enable customers to book the airline and reach their destination faster.
“The feedback from our customers since we announced the expansion of the Qantas and American Airlines alliance has been fantastic,” Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans says.
“Our corporate customers in particular have told us they look forward to saving about four hours each way by not having to connect through Los Angeles [or Auckland].”
The service, operated by American Airlines, will initially operate on peak days and increase to six a week in January 2016.
ANA resumes Sydney flights
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partner in Japan, ANA (All-Nippon Airways), has announced it will resume Tokyo-Sydney flights for the first time in 16 years.
ANA, which was an early customer for Boeing 787 Dreamliners, will operate its flights from Haneda airport, which is much closer to central Tokyo than Narita.
ANA will compete with archrival JAL (Japan Airlines) on the Sydney route.
Tourism industry sources say international visitors prefer travelling on their own airlines, suggesting the number of Canadian and Japanese tourists will rise if they are given a choice.
The same would apply to New Zealand, if North American and Japanese airlines were to compete with Air New Zealand and increase the number of seats available.
Japanese visitors to New Zealand rose 13.5% to nearly 85,000 in the year to May while Canadians rose 4.2% to 50,400.
New Zealanders visiting Canada rose 4.8% to 23,500 in the same period, while those going to Japan rose 9.7% to nearly 27,000.