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May 26, 2024
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Qantas will grow its capacity back to 100 percent of 2019 levels by March next year, up from the current 84 percent. The carrier will induct new and stored aircraft to the fleet and lease capacity from Finnair to make this possible. Qantas to grow back capacity to 100 percent with help from Finnair.

Qantas, which returned to profitability in 2022, says that from the upcoming October schedule, it will add one million seats to the international network over the next twelve months compared to the current schedule. There will be significantly more flights to key destinations like New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.

Sydney to New York via Auckland will increase from three to four flights per week. Melbourne to Los Angeles will go from daily to nine flights per week. With the introduction of an extra Airbus A380 on this route, seat capacity will grow by sixty percent.

From November 26, Qantas will double its capacity to Tokyo from fourteen to 28 flights. Sydney-Tokyo will become double daily, while Melbourne and Brisbane will get daily flights to the Japanese capital but operate to Narita instead of Tokyo Haneda.

Qantas will return to Shanghai for the first time in three years and offer a daily service. Hong Kong will get a daily service from Melbourne, while during the Australian summer period, it will also see daily services from Sydney. The airline will operate with a mix of A330s and A380s.

From March next year, Melbourne-Singapore will grow from ten to fourteen weekly services and Sydney-Singapore from fourteen to fifteen flights. Melbourne-Delhi frequencies will be doubled to six flights a week but during the Australian summer only.

Closer to home, Qantas and QantasLink will open new regional services between Brisbane and Wellington and the Solomon Islands to be operated by Embraer E190s. Sydney-Christchurch and Sydney-Queenstown will grow to fourteen services a week, the latter only during the summer peak.

Finnair A330s on long-term lease

To make the Asian ramp-up possible, Qantas is leasing two Airbus A330-300s from Finnair. Qantas says that it wet-lease the aircraft with the crew for 2.5 years, followed by a three-year dry-lease without the crew from 2025. Interestingly, a Finnair media release says that the wet lease covers two years and the dry lease 2.5 years. The first aircraft will join the network in October and operate between Sydney and Singapore. The second one will become available in March 2024 and operate between Sydney and Bangkok.

For Finnair, the long-term contract secures the airline of stable revenues and optimal utilization of its aircraft. The airline, which posted a Q1 net profit, is in the midst of a transformation process to optimize its network and improve profitability. Since the Covid crisis and later the closure of Russian airspace to Asia, Finnair’s wings to the East have been clipped and leading to the surplus capacity of its widebody fleet. The partnership with Qatar Airways with flights to Doha has improved the situation, but the leases to Qantas are a clever move to use the aircraft. Finnair will use Helsinki-based pilots to fly the aircraft to Singapore and Bangkok, and then on to Sydney, before going all the way back home.

Additional long-haul capacity will be added thanks to the delivery of two more Boeing 787-9s this year, on top of the recent delivery of one Dreamliner. This has been the first new aircraft delivery to Qantas in three years. The carrier has brought back five long-haul aircraft, some from storage and others from standby status. One A380 left deep storage in January, while another one is currently undergoing a heavy technical check and will re-enter commercial service at the end of the year.  

author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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