Earlier this year, fifty new daytime slot pairs at Tokyo Haneda were awarded to nine countries. One of those slot pairs was awarded to Qantas for flights between Australia and the Tokyo airport.
While there have been speculations for a while as to whether the airline would use the new slots to add a second daily frequency from Sydney or to move one of its Narita flights to the more convenient Haneda airport, now the decision has been made.
QF79/80: Melbourne – Tokyo Haneda and Back
Earlier today, December 16, 2019, Qantas announced that it will move its Melbourne (MEL) route from the less convenient Narita (NRT) to Haneda (HND) airport using the newly available slot pair. Until the slots become available next March, the airline will continue to operate the daily flights as follows:
- QF79 / MEL – NRT / 9:20AM – 5:40PM
- QF80 / NRT – MEL / 7:20PM – 7:55AM+1
The flights will move to Haneda starting from March 29, 2020. They will continue to operate daily under the same flight numbers with a slightly modified schedule:
- QF79 / MEL – HND / 10:30AM – 8:00PM
- QF80 / HND – MEL / 9:30PM – 9:00AM+1
Qantas will continue to deploy Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the route after the move.
When announcing the move, Tino La Spina, Qantas International CEO commented that:
Our new Melbourne-Haneda flights gives our customers much easier access to Tokyo city centre and one of the world’s most important business markets. We expect the new Haneda service to be particularly popular with business travelers, who will save more than an hour of transit time in getting to the city and also starts ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
After the move, Qantas will offer two daily flights out of Tokyo Haneda – one to Sydney and one to Melbourne. In addition to that, it will also continue to offer daily flights between Brisbane and Tokyo Narita. The airline also serves Osaka Kansai out of Sydney four times a week and Sapporo three times a week during the skiing season.
Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary Jetstar serves Japan as well with daily flights from Cairns to Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai and daily flights from Gold Coast to Narita.
ANA operates daily flights from Haneda to Sydney and from Narita to Perth – and will add another daily Sydney frequency once the new Haneda slots become available. JAL operates daily flights from Narita to Sydney and Melbourne. It plans to move the Sydney flights to Haneda next year.
Lastly, Qantas’ main competitor, Virgin Australia will launch its first route to Japan in March 2020 as well. It will operate daily between Brisbane and Tokyo Haneda, offering a more convenient option than Qantas’ Brisbane – Narita flights.
Unfortunately, just like with most other airlines, Qantas will not use its new Haneda slots to expand capacity into Japan. Rather, it will use them to provide its passengers with more convenience by moving its existing Melbourne route to the airport.
That said, the move is a win for both Haneda airport which will have another destination on its network map and for Qantas which will be able to offer flights to the more convenient of the two big Tokyo airports.
The only loser is Tokyo Narita which will see a considerable drop in traffic starting with next April. While the airport put in place an incentive to attract new long-haul airlines, it will likely have a hard time getting back to the traffic levels it is at right now once the move to Haneda happens in March 2020.