As this decade draws to an end (if you ignore when the millennium actually was) and commentators seek to define it,aviation’s decade legacy in Australia is clear. On the internationalfront, traffic shifted from European carriers to Asian carriers.
Australia had historically been tied to Europe–Britainespecially–and those ties were replicated in air services. Air France,Alitalia, Austrian, and KLM are some of the carriers Australia saw inits heyday of European flights.
Now only British Airways and Virgin Atlantic remain, and BA has seasonally reduced one of its B747-400 services to a B777-200. [Update 4 Feb 2010: BA will reduce its services again this year.]
Onthe other hand, Asia has grown increasingly important to Australia. Onthe political front, Kevin Rudd was elected as Prime Minister in 2007with many impressed by his fluent Mandarin.
MelbourneAirport CEO Chris Woodruff recently said that his airport saw Chinesepassengers overtake UK passengers as the most frequent internationalvisitors in 2008.
In October China Southern announcedit would up its Guangzhou-Sydney service from 5 weekly to daily until20 February 2010. It previously flew an add-on sector to Melbourne fromSydney, but through 25 March 2010 will operate thriceweekly non-stops to Melbourne.
Yesterdaythe carrier, the fifth largest in China, announced it would increasecapacity to Sydney by approximately 10% by upgrading the A330-200 withan A330-300. The increase sees the introduction of first class with 4seats along with 24 additional economy seats.
Late last monthAirAsia X announced it would go double daily (from 11x weekly) toMelbourne in the peak travel periods of February and July. CEO AzranOsman-Rani said his low-cost, long-haul carrier in the near futureplans to add more frequencies in Australia, and hopefully serve Sydney.
If this decade–the noughties,or whatever you please–saw a shift from European to Asian services, thenext decade will continue that trend, and also see how Australia’sairlines will respond.
Will it be cut throat? Or sneakily strategic along the lines of AirAsia and Jetstar looking to form a joint venture?
Orwill Australia’s airlines not respond in full force because they don’twant to (Jetstar feigning off AirAsia X on routes to Europe, V Australia settling inon the US market) or can’t (Qantas and Jetstar growth pegged on much-delayed 787, Virgin Blue Group only has 777s and narrow bodies)?