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Qantas: Nails it with repatriation flights, Chairman’s Lounges, re-locating HQ and status match for Virgin high flyers

Qantas: Nails it with repatriation flights, Chairman’s Lounges, re-locating HQ and status match for Virgin high flyers

Australia’s largest airline demonstrates its smarts yet again. This week alone it has hit the press with:

  • repatriation flights from Europe to bring Australians home before Christmas
  • re-opening of the invitation only Chairman’s Club lounges from 9 December
  • it has Daniel Andrews in Victoria, plus NSW, South Australian, and Queensland governments devising offers to tempt its headquarters, maintenance and training facilities to their capital cities
  • in a coup de grâce for Virgin Australia, it’s trying to steal their premium flyers with a fast track Status Match challenge

Repatriation flights

With a reported 39,000 Australians wanting to return home and a weekly limit on international travellers arriving in Australia caused by quarantine hotel room availability, Qantas is mounting another repatriation flight from Frankfurt, with a destination for passengers of Howard Springs, 25 kms south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. The facility has been previously used to house Australians evacuated from Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic, as well as Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers from Japan.

The flight on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Frankfurt – QF116 – leaves on 12 December at 10.10am loacal time, arriving in Darwin on 13 December at 10.55 am. Don’t expect social distancing on the flight as seats are in high demand. All passengers will be subject to a COVID-19 test no earlier than 48 hours before the flight at a Qantas designated testing facility. Any passengers with a positive result will not be travelling.

Passengers should expect to pay:

  • €5,372 – Business
  • €2,241 – Premium
  • €1,297 – Economy

for the one-way fare. You will also need to wear a mask through out the flight, and change it every 2 hours. Qantas will supply the masks.

Chairmans club and other lounges

For those lucky enough to have access to these invitation only spaces, expect a re-opening on 9 December of the lounges located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Many remaining Qantas lounges in will re-open on 2 December including Melbourne’s Business Lounge, and the Qantas Clubs in Brisbane, Devonport, Gold Coast, Hobart, Perth and on Sydney. That will leave a few club lounges still closed, including Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Port Hedland and Rockhampton. Eligable Qantas flyers will be welcomed into the Business lounges at those destinations, where available.

ET is rumouring that Qantas First lounges might open to all lounge eligible passengers once international bubble routes start opening.

Caught on the hop is Virgin Australia, with only one lounge in Brisbane open, and none of its premier The Club lounges scheduled to open at the moment. We just don’t know the fate of these Virgin equivalents to the Qantas Chairman’s lounge. The new Virgin CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka seems a little slow off the mark on these lounge facilities that should be part of any strategy to retain or appeal to business and premium flyers.

Qantas HQ subsidy

Alan Joyce previously announced that he was reviewing the need for office space and other facilities post COVID-19. He has started a bidding war amongst state governments by speculating on a move of the Qantas head office, or a consolidation of its facilities. This is a tactic that state governments fall for all too readily, handing over our hard lost gambling investments and property stamp duty tax dollars to large companies to employ us in their businesses. First cab off the rank apparently is Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, who has a gargantuan COVIDE-19 lockdown related budget deficit to deal with.

When will governments stop falling for this socialisation of costs, and privatisation of profits? Don’t worry about me, I bought Qantas shares when they fell through the floor once the pandemic hit! (steps down from soapbox)

Qantas Status match to steal Virgin Australia’s premium flyers

I reported on this earlier in the week, but completely underplayed the Qantas tactic of taking advantage of Virgin Australia’s lack of declared strategy around Business and Premium flyers.

Jayne Hrdlicka, no slouch in the airline tactics department herself, just got sideswiped by Olivia Wirth, over at Qantas loyalty.

With no firm indication of what benefits loyal business and premium flyers are going to get from the reborn, mid-market targeted Virgin Australia, Olivia swooped in and offered these lucrative flyers a great deal on premium status with Qantas. The AFR is reporting that some major businesses are pulling out of their allegiance to Virgin over the uncertainty of services Virgin would provide.

Virgin is yet to announce its strategy for business, leaving in question the continuation of in-flight Wi-Fi, on board entertainment, and premium food and beverage offerings, now that agreements with Luke Mangan have been terminated.

2PAXfly Takeout

I love digital, except when my phone dies, which happened to me on the last night of my recent visit to New Zealand

Qantas is demonstrating its superiority in all of these areas. Expect it to gain far more than its 70% of the domestic market it claims to be aiming for.

Jayne Hrdlicka might be Qantas trained, but at the moment she is no threat to the collective nouse of Qantas management. I think the lack of a clear announcement on plans for the most loyal and lucrative flyers at the pointy end of the plane is a tactical error. Things like lounge access and availability, wifi, and food and beverage offering matter to this market and so, not to have a clear strategy, communicated to the market on this stuff is a major oversight.

Virgin Australia can’t compete on the frequency or the extent of their network, but it can compete on price and service both at the front and back of the plane. So far we have heard that service is diminishing at the back of the plane with no clear signal on price reductions, and every indication that the quality of services and facilities for those travelling at the front of the plane is also on the decline.

Not happy Jan Jayne!

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