Qantas will begin direct flights from Brisbane to Tokyo’s Narita Airport from August next year as part of the airline’s expansion of services into Japan.
This new direct service will operate four times a week and complement a new direct daily Sydney-Haneda service.
Qantas will also fly to Narita on three alternate days from another Australian port, which will be finalised shortly, meaning the airline will offer double daily services to Japan.
In total, Qantas will add more than 4,000 seats per week across 14 return flights between Australia and Japan on a combination of B747 (to Haneda) and A330 (to Narita) services.
The announcement was made at Qantas’ Brisbane Heavy Maintenance Facility this week where Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman inspected work on the first of 28 Airbus A330s to be fitted with new class-leading interiors.
It follows Qantas’ recent confirmation that it had obtained peak time slots to operate daily services to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in addition to its existing slots to Narita. The extra capacity comes as departures from Australia to Japan have grown 17 per cent in the past year.
The extra flying time has been made possible through improved aircraft utilisation.
Joyce said the new direct service from Brisbane to Japan was a coup for Australian travellers as well as for the local economy.
“We are delighted to offer Qantas customers a choice of four weekly services from Brisbane to Tokyo beginning in August next year,” Joyce said.
“This is great news for Brisbane customers wanting to visit Japan but it’s also great news for tourism because it makes Queensland even more accessible to Japanese travellers.
“We expect the Sydney to Haneda services to be particularly popular with business travellers, and this traffic is likely to keep growing off the back of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Japan.
“Combined with Jetstar flights from Cairns and the Gold Coast into Japan, the services the Qantas Group offers put us in a very strong position when it comes to both leisure and premium travel to the world’s third largest economy.”
Joyce said the A330s flying to Narita will be among those gradually refurbished with all new lie-flat Business Suites, upgraded Economy seating and new in-flight entertainment.
“We’re proud to be doing work on our A330s in Brisbane, where we have more than 200 engineers and support staff working for 30 days on each aircraft to install 250,000 individual parts,” he said.
“When this project is finished by the end of 2016, we believe these aircraft will offer the best travel experience between Australia and Asia, and the best domestic travel experience anywhere in the world.”
The first of Qantas’ newly refurbished A330 aircraft will start flying domestically in late December, with the first route to be Sydney to Perth. The first international reconfigured aircraft due to enter service in mid-January on the Melbourne to Singapore route. More than half of the A330 fleet is expected to be refurbished by the end of December 2015.
Newman said the announcement was part of the Government’s strong plan to grow the economy, with more tourists spending money in Queensland and supporting local family businesses.
“The Queensland Government has moved quickly to get our tourism industry going again after it was ignored by Labor and this is yet another significant coup,” Newman said.
“From August 2015, Qantas A330s will fly four flights a week between Tokyo’s Narita Airport and Brisbane allowing more than 61,000 travellers to access the state annually.
“This is fantastic news for Queensland tourism and is estimated to generate up to $37 million a year for our tourism industry.
“International visitor expenditure has hit record levels under this Government and 27,000 new tourism jobs have been created, but there’s still work to do and only the LNP has a strong plan to deliver more.”
Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said the flights would provide an enormous boost for the state’s economy.
“This is the first time in four years that Japanese travellers will be able to fly direct into Brisbane,” Stuckey said.
“The new flights will increase capacity from Japan into Queensland by around 20 per cent.
“While Labor has absolutely no plan for tourism, the Newman Government’s 20 year plan outlines the need to increase aviation investment throughout the state.”
The new flights have been welcomed by the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), with CEO Margy Osmond saying the direct flights will boost tourism.
“We know that easy access makes destinations more attractive, so the provision of direct flights to Brisbane will see more Japanese visitors spend more time in the Queensland capital, as well as visiting other parts of the state,” Osmond said.
“Japan is Australia’s 6th biggest inbound market, with almost 330,000 visitors in the year to September.
“Japanese visitors spend almost a third of their time in Australia outside the gateway cities, so this additional capacity will benefit regional destinations as well.
“These flights will provide more options for Australians travelling to Japan and for Japanese visitors coming to Australia.
“Passengers from across Japan will be able to seamlessly connect from Jetstar Japan domestic flights to these direct Qantas flights to Brisbane, making it easier to get here for people from cities across Japan.
“The addition of more than 4000 seats per week will boost expenditure by Japanese visitors to Queensland, as it works towards its Tourism 2020 target of doubling overnight visitor expenditure from $15 billion to $30 billion.
“We congratulate Qantas and Brisbane Airport on today’s announcement and welcome the strong support from the Queensland Government to ensure this service reaches its potential and delivers for the Queensland visitor economy,” Osmond said.