What is dubbed the ‘Kangaroo Route’ remains one of the most lucrative routes to operate, more than 30 years after it was first introduced. At first it was a multi-stop affair through South East Asia, India/Pakistan, the Middle East and finally to Europe. These days one stops are the norm – pioneered by Singapore Airlines through their world class hub at Changi Airport back in the 1990s, and beaten at their own game by the Middle Eastern giants led by Emirates at Dubai in the 2000s up till the present (DXB is now the largest international airport in world by passenger movement).
A game changer however, might be in the offing.
Qantas is about ready to take delivery of their new 787 fleet. This is changes the age old theory of the Kangaroo Route. Fundamentally. The Telegraph is reporting that in preparation for Qantas introducing their latest 787-9 aircraft in 2017 the airline has purchased and installed a new 787 simulator at their Sydney HQ, with select long haul crew being hand picked for additional training to operate what will be the world’s longest flight, from Perth, Western Australia, to London, England. This has long been a pipe dream for airlines such as Qantas and their counterpart British Airways – but only now has technology allowed them to operate this route non-stop feasibly. What this means for the Kangaroo Route remains to be seen, but major players in the one stop market from Australia to Europe such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific must be worried with the advent of non-stop options that will surely appeal to the high yielding and/or business traveler.
If you are a oneworld elite living in Australia or London (very likely, given the presence of Qantas and BA) – you win hard. BA’s option through Singapore and Qantas’ options (in conjunction with Emirates) through Dubai no longer are musts – the nonstop option is now first choice, and really out of favor here is Cathay Pacific, who despite being a oneoworld member, does not cooperate closely with either BA or QF.
EK loses their market share of the Australia-London market, but are kept afloat by the fact that they instrumented an ingenious massive joint venture and code share agreement with Qantas from basically every international Australian port – they will continue to funnel QF passengers to other points in Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Which brings us to the next biggest loser – Singapore Airlines. Star Alliance is weak in London – they are the undoubted champions within continental Europe, but are very very weak in the British Isles. So they need to compete on price given their one stop option, which will hurt them badly especially given their premium offering. SQ will continue to ferry their bit part in the industry to other secondary European ports but they have probably ceded the British market from Australia to Qantas and by de facto Emirates.
So this is a hallmark in the aviation industry. The Kangaroo Route is a massive prestige route and has been a goldmine for various airlines through the decades, depending on how many years you want to go back.
What does Qantas accomplish by blowing everything out of the water and going non-stop from Australia (albeit Perth) to London?
For oneworld elites its massive. Now folks from the east side anywhere between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane can do a domestic transfer in Perth through Qantas’ premium transcon offering on their new A330s straight to London. For Emirates elites, they can continue to earn points on the new non-stop flight. For those who might not want to pay the premium for the new flight, its status quo – your very viable choices are BA through Singapore, or via Dubai on either Qantas or Emirates metal, depending on your preference. CX through Hong Kong too though I know you most likely won’t with no status earning bonuses in it for you.
For Star Alliance elites, your choices remain Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways through Singapore or Bangkok. Jesus wept.
And for Skyteam elites? Well…you were never really relevant to this discussion to begin with, were you?
Bottom line is regardless of alliance this is a massive step in the progress of the global commercial aviation industry and I for one can’t wait for the day I see the first scheduled commercial service from Australia land in the UK – its been decades in the making, its about time it happened.
This story first appeared on the International Business Times on August 9, 2016.