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Qantas launches new int’l route + adds more Singapore & India flights, but axes China

Qantas has unveiled some major updates to its Asia network, with the launch of a new service to Manila, extra capacity to Singapore and India, and the cancellation of its Shanghai service.

Qantas has unveiled some major updates to its Asia network, with the launch of a new service to Manila, extra capacity to Singapore and India, and the cancellation of its Shanghai service.

The new Brisbane-Manila service will commence on 28 October 2024, operating four days per week. Utilising its A330 aircraft, Qantas returns to the route after a more than ten-year absence and adds over 100,000 seats per year between the destinations.

Flight QF97 will depart Brisbane on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7.15pm and arrive in Manila at 1am. QF98 will depart Manila on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 2.45am and arrive in Brisbane at 12.20pm.   

Brisbane-Manila flights will be available to book in the coming days.

The new service will complement the flying kangaroo’s daily Sydney-Manila service and look to boost two-way tourism between Australia and the Philippines. 

Night view of Manila Cathedral at Manila, Philippines
Manila Cathedral.

“The Philippines is currently Brisbane’s 12th biggest inbound tourism market. Qantas will cement it as a top 10 player for Queensland,” Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said.

“The Philippines is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a key trading partner for Queensland. With our state home to a vibrant Filipino community, the business and tourism opportunities generated by this expanded connectivity will no doubt be a success.” 

“The route is supported by the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, a joint initiative of the Queensland Government and the state’s international airports.” 

Queensland Tourism Minister Michael Healy said the announcement is “terrific news for both Queensland and Qantas”. 

“Manila to Brisbane is an important international route for Queensland, as it provides increased capacity to a rapidly growing South East Asia market,” he added.

“As an aviation super hub, the Philippines is a strategic connection for international students and overseas travellers looking to enjoy Queensland’s great lifestyle and world-class visitor experiences.”

Qantas at BNE
QF at BNE.

Meanwhile, Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace said, “We know large numbers of our customers have been travelling between Manila and Brisbane via our existing Sydney service, which gives us great confidence about how this route will perform when flights start”. 

Supersizing Singapore

Elsewhere, Qantas will boost flights to Singapore by around 10 per cent, providing over 2,500 additional seats per week between Australia and the Asian hub. 

Starting 11 December 2024, Sydney-Singapore routes will increase from 14 to 17 return flights per week. 

Brisbane to Singapore routes will also rise from seven to nine return flights per week starting 27 October 2024. 

This adjustment aims to enhance connectivity with Qantas’ daily service from Singapore to London, reducing travel time to Heathrow by approximately four hours. 

Additionally, flights from Sydney to Bengaluru (India) will grow from five per week to daily during the peak holiday season, running from mid-December 2024 to late March 2025. This move will add over 12,000 seats between the two cities over the four-month period.

China dropped

Travellers in Shanghai
Shanghai has not proved popular among Qantas customers.

It isn’t all good news for Qantas however, with the carrier announcing the suspension of its recently recommenced Sydney-Shanghai service from 28 July 2024 due to low demand. 

Despite resuming the service in October last year after the COVID pause, the airline said demand hasn’t rebounded as expected. 

It added that it will monitor the Australia-China market and resume Shanghai flights once demand picks up. 

Customers can still reach Shanghai and other Chinese destinations via Qantas flights to Hong Kong, with onward connections available on partner airlines.

Passengers booked on Shanghai flights from 28 July will receive a full refund or can discuss rebooking on alternative flights with Qantas or their travel agent.

Aircraft allocated to this route will be redirected to support flights to other destinations across Asia.

‘Half full’ flights

Supertree of Gardens by the Bay
More of this for travellers? (Singapore)

“We’re always looking to ensure that we have the right aircraft, on the right routes and at the right time of year to best meet the needs of our customers,” Wallace said.

“Since COVID, the demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected. In some months, our flights to and from Shanghai have been operating around half full.

“That’s why we’ve decided to suspend this route and boost flying to other popular destinations with a new route from Brisbane to Manila and additional flights to Singapore and Bengaluru. 

“This will create more choice for our corporate and leisure customers and make it even easier for them to access the places they need to travel to in Asia.”

Last month, Qantas announced it would offer more than 20 million extra reward seats via Classic Plus Flight Rewards, a new way for Qantas Frequent Flyers to book flights using points.