Australia's Qantas to ax Dubai flights, boost Asian presence with Perth-London launch

FILE PHOTO: Qantas Airways planes sit on the tarmac at Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport February 26, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian national carrier Qantas Airways Ltd on Thursday said it would ax its Melbourne-Dubai-London flights operated in partnership with Emirates and switch the capacity to Asia when it launches non-stop Perth-London flights next year.

The move is part of a strategy of cutting the journey time to London to gain an edge and pricing premium over the two dozen rivals offering one-stop flights on the so-called Kangaroo route.

Qantas will charge a premium of as much as 48 percent in economy class and 62 percent in business class relative to one-stop rivals like Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines on the Perth-London route in return for saving three hours of travel time, according to online price comparisons.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce has said his airline could be operating non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London within five years as Airbus SE and Boeing Co introduce longer-range aircraft.

The 17-hour Perth-London flight on a Boeing 787-9 will originate and end in Melbourne and will not be subject to heightened security checks for Middle Eastern flights as a result.

It will cut more than an hour off the flying time from Melbourne to London relative to the current route through Dubai, Qantas said in a statement.

Sydney-Dubai-London will be the Australian airline’s only flight operating through the Emirates hub once the change takes place in March. Qantas’s capacity to London will fall as a result of the switch to a 787 from a larger A380.

Two A380s that had been serving the Melbourne-Dubai-London route would be redeployed to meet periods of high demand from Melbourne and Sydney to destinations in Asia, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, a Qantas spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Stephen Coates