There had been plenty of speculation that Jetstar’s next long haul move would be Singapore to both Europe and North Asia. It looks like they’ve decided to put that on hold in favor of more Oceania flying. I wonder if Air Asia X has anything to do with this decision?
Here’s a map of how Jetstar is running things in Singapore these days.
You can see there is a substantial short haul presence along with that long haul trip to Perth. Other long haul has been focused out of Australia so far. The expectation was that we’d see some Jetstar really open up Singapore long haul into Europe, maybe Japan and Korea, etc. But no, they’ve gone the other way.
Starting December 17, there will be a single daily to Melbourne and on March 17, a single daily to Auckland. These are interesting routes. Singapore to Melbourne is not exactly a less-traveled route. Singapore flies it three times a day, once on an A380, and Emirates flies it once a day as well. Qantas has a single daily mainline flight that doesn’t appear to be disappearing at this point. It seems that Qantas simply sees an opportunity to go to the low end of the market with its Jetstar product since the high end is already covered quite well.
Auckland is an even more interesting one. Only Singapore flies the route today, up to two times daily depending on the season. Air New Zealand isn’t on the route, so they are likely to only have cautious concern at this point for potential future expansion.
What this allows Qantas to do is take Kiwi passengers and funnel them into the Southeast Asian network. Even though it’s a low cost product, it’s going to still provide good competition with Singapore and other Asian carriers for those travelers heading to southeast Asian destinations.
So maybe this was an attempt to simply shore up defenses in Oceania before taking on Europe and North Asia, especially with Air Asia X flying from Kuala Lumpur to several Australian cities. Or maybe Jetstar simply wasn’t excited about what it was seeing in those markets. Air Asia X, Air Asia’s long haul operation out of Kuala Lumpur, has a great deal of trouble since its startup.
Sure, the airline is profitable, but look where its growth has been. China, India, and Australia see nearly all the flights from the airline. The only exception is the inaugural London route. A foray into Abu Dhabi ended three months after it started.
There have also been all kinds of seat problems, and Air Asia X learned that people didn’t like the premium economy product and instead wanted a full flat business product. The airline had to change out all its seats.
So with no entry into Japan and still only a single European route, Air Asia X hasn’t exactly shown the strength of those markets, and it has faced a lot of headwinds in delivering the right product. That doesn’t mean these routes can’t work, but it may have been a sign for Jetstar that other things can work much better.