Power Play As Jetstar Plans Canberra Flights

Jetstar is bound for Canberra, with flights slated to begin in September. The flights between Brisbane and Canberra…

Power Play As Jetstar Plans Canberra Flights

Jetstar is bound for Canberra, with flights slated to begin in September. The flights between Brisbane and Canberra will mark the low-cost carriers’ first scheduled foray to Australia’s capital city. While being welcomed as an affordable alternative to usually sky-high fares seen on Canberra flights, Jetstar’s better late than never arrival into the capital may also be part of a competitive power play by owner Qantas to ward off rivals.

Jetstar is beginning flights to Canberra in September. Photo: Jetstar

After 17 years of avoiding Canberra, Jetstar sees potential in the national capital

Beginning September 2, Jetstar will fly five times a week between Brisbane and Canberra using an Airbus A320-200. On Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, JQ656 will push back from Brisbane (BNE) at 12:00 and arrive in Canberra (CBR) one hour and fifty minutes later at 13:50. The return service will operate on the same days, departing  Canberra at 14:30 and landing in Brisbane at 16:30.

After 17 years of avoiding the national capital, Jetstar’s imminent arrival on the apron at CBR has surprised many. Jetstar’s CEO, Gareth Evans, says Canberra offers opportunities for profitable growth. The ACT Government’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, says he’s been trying to lure Jetstar to town for years. Others say it is more about keeping rivals Virgin Australia and Rex at bay.

Having significant government, public service, and business traffic to the capital, Canberra is an expensive airport to fly in or out of. With many travelers through the airport not paying for their own tickets, that’s not necessarily a problem. For the airline with the biggest market share in Canberra, Qantas, it has been a sweet deal.

Virgin Australia has a smaller slice of the Canberra market, including flying BNE-CBR. Local upstart airline, Rex, doesn’t fly the route but does fly between Canberra and Sydney. Rex starts flying between Canberra and Melbourne later this month, and is aggressively expanding.

Qantas enjoys the lion’s share of the market in Canberra. Photo: Canberra Airport

Is this a competitive play to keep Rex at bay?

The long-held theory is that Jetstar stayed out of Canberra to avoid cannibalizing Qantas’ high-fare paying passengers, particularly those passengers paying for their own tickets, who had no choice but to pay a price premium, who might have been open to a low-cost alternative.

But with airlines rebuilding their networks after the travel downturn, the old rules no longer necessarily apply.

A lunchtime and mid-afternoon departure five days a week is unlikely to lure Qantas’ core government/public service/ business travelers who tend to fly at the start and finish of the day. These taxpayer-funded flyers also usually prefer full-service airlines with all the attendant bells and whistles.

But Jetstar’s new flights could well put the squeeze on Virgin Australia who now competes as a mid-market carrier and targets price-sensitive customers. As for Rex, if they are eyeing the BNE-CBR route, they may well decide four airlines on that route won’t fly financially.

Is Qantas playing a competitive game here? Is Qantas deploying its low-cost airline, risking a little marginal market cannibalization to keep Rex off a route?

Jetstar’s Canberra flights will bring some welcome price relief on a normally expensive route. Photo: Jetstar

Lower fares will be a win for passengers

In March, 32.700 passengers flew Jetstar’s new route on either Qantas or Virgin Australia. According to Australian Government statistics, 70,200 seats were available on the route in March. Average passenger loads were 54%.

Jetstar says it will add around 100,000 seats annually to the route, and fares will average between US$99 and US$138 – making the Jetstar product a compelling offer for travelers who pay for their own tickets. Launch sale fares are starting at US58. But in typical low-cost carrier fashion, you’ll need to add more for bags and seat selection.

Nonetheless, these are good prices for what is normally an expensive route to fly. But some questions remain outstanding, namely, what will Virgin Australia and Rex do in Canberra?

Source : Simple Flying More   

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What Will Russia’s New Boeing 737 MAX Rival Bring To The Market?

Earlier this week, we covered the characteristics of the PD-14 engines that will be fitted on the Irkut…

What Will Russia’s New Boeing 737 MAX Rival Bring To The Market?

Earlier this week, we covered the characteristics of the PD-14 engines that will be fitted on the Irkut MC-21. Following up on this, Simple Flying also some with Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy of the State Corporation Rostec, about what Russia’s upcoming narrowbody jet will bring to the market.

The Irkut MC-21 has been tipped to compete in similar segments as the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. Photo: Rostec

Deliveries from next year

The MC-21-300 has a capacity of 211 passengers and a range of up to 6,000 km and is targeted to serve major markets in both Russia and across the nations. Presently, contracts are for the supply of aircraft to Russian airlines, with Aeroflot set to receive the first unit. Deliveries are expected from 2022. When this market is saturated and the capacity of the plane’s after-sales support system increases, the program is expected to scale up to foreign markets.

Irkut MC-21
Initially, the aircraft will operate on Russian medium-haul routes, but opportunities will open up after market maturation. Photo: Rostec

What to expect

Kladov explains that the key features of MC-21 are the widespread use of modern innovative solutions ensuring high flight and operational performance. He adds that among the innovations are engines with a high bypass ratio and other modern aircraft systems from Russian and international manufacturers.

“The aircraft has improved aerodynamics thanks to its high aspect ratio wings, made of composite materials for the first time on an aircraft of this class. The widest fuselage in its class (4.06 m) provides a new level of comfort. This provides advantages such as a wide aisle that allows a passenger to easily walk past a service cart,” Kladov told Simple Flying.

“Personal space and capacity of luggage racks are also more spacious. When designing the aircraft, our designers took into account the changed anthropometric characters of passengers recorded in modern decades. The level of air pressure in the aircraft cabin also provides increased comfort. On the MC-21, unlike other airliners of this class, it corresponds to the performance of long-haul widebody aircraft.”

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The current focus

Serial production for the aircraft was initially planned to start three years ago, and deliveries were expected to begin at the start of 2020, but there had been a series of delays over the years. However, there has been significant progress recently. Four MC-21-300s fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines have been undergoing tests. Moreover, in December, the MC-21-310, an edition equipped with Russia’s PD-14 engines, took off for the first time.

Irkut MC-21 Jet
A major goal is the deployment of an effective after-sales service system. Photo: Rostec

Rostec explains that its main priorities are obtaining a certificate for MC-21-300, finishing the production process of the first models, and delivering them to the customer. The serial assembly is carried out at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, and last month, the first serial outer wing panel made of Russian composite materials was delivered there. The next stage is to complete the certification of the MC-21-310 and begin its serial production.

What are your thoughts about the prospects of the MC-21? Are you looking forward to the introduction of the plane? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its prospects in the comment section.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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