Qantas to clip flights to Asia, move some routes to Jetstar

Monday, June 9, 2008, 7:21 by Aviation Correspondent

Qantas Airways Limited, Australia’s largest carrier and the country’s national airline, has decided either to cancel or reduce many of its services to Japan and south-east Asia in the wake of exceptionally high prices of aviation fuel. The thrice-weekly Melbourne-Tokyo service will be cut from September 2008. Besides, the number of flights between Sydney and Tokyo has been reduced.

A statement from Qantas Airways Limited said that maintaining the existing schedule to Japan would cost the airline an extra Australian $100 million ($95 million; £49 million) at current fuel pieces.

The airline had, a week ago, announced that it was reducing domestic capacity by about 5%.

In an effort to survive in the midst of the crisis resulting from high costs of oil, Qantas will also reduce the number of its employees. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air Lines and other carriers worldwide are also cutting routes as well as jobs to cope with high fuel costs.

As a part of curtailing operating costs, the low-cost carrier Jetstar, a subsidiary of Qantas, will terminate its service from Cairns in Queensland, Australia, to Osaka and Nagoya in Japan.

Qantas plans to cut its services to Sydney to Los Angeles, which uses Boeing 747-400, to 15 a week from 17 a week and close down its pilot base in Cairns, necessitating about 40 pilots based in Cairns to return to Sydney and other bases.

Qantas will also replace 14 flights a week from Cairns to Tokyo with daily flights on Jetstar Airways. Jetstar, based in Melbourne, Australia, operates an extensive domestic network as well as regional and some international services.

The other changes to be effected by Qantas will include withdrawal of Jetstar’s service from Sydney in Australia, to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and using Jetstar to replace Qantas on routes from Perth in Australia, to the cities of Denpasar and Jakarta in Indonesia.

Jetstar Airways will also add service between Gold Coast in Australia and Narita Airport in Japan, five times a week.

In the company’s statement, Geoff Dixon, chief executive of Qantas, said: “We will continue to work with individual markets and look for opportunities as conditions improve to address capacity issues and reinstate services where and when we can.”

Qantas has already raised fuel surcharges, along with other major airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.