3 Links I Love: Qantas’s Position of Strength, Making Money Where No Airline Can, Pittsburgh Spends A Lot to Save a Little

This week’s featured link:
Qantas extends Emirates deal, switches from Dubai to Singapore as Sydney-London stopoverABC Australia
When Qantas was in real trouble on its international routes, it tied up with Emirates and routed its remaining European flights through Dubai as well. This joint venture may have helped stem the bleeding back then, but Qantas is a totally different airline now, and it’s making a nice chunk of change. So, it will move its London flights back to routing via Singapore. (I find it interesting this article points out that travelers prefer connecting via Southeast Asia over the Middle East. They must like having the short hop first followed by the long one.) Combine that with the decision to fly nonstop from Perth to London and the request for aircraft that can fly nonstop from Sydney and Melbourne, and Qantas seems to be distancing itself from the Emirates crutch it once needed.

The comment from Neil Hansford in the article reminded me of Hugh Grant’s speech in Love Actually. It might be a stretch to compare Qantas to Hugh Grant, but, you know, the airline is looking a whole lot better now than it used to.

Two for the road:
This Airline Is Making a Profit Flying Out of CaracasBloomberg
Venezuela is a terrible place for airlines (and pretty much everyone else not in Maduro’s pocket). Since most airlines are unable to repatriate the funds from tickets sold in the country, they’ve had to stop selling there. The airlines that remained had to survive on sales from outside the country, and that has worked on only a handful of routes. Most airlines have dramatically cut service or pulled out entirely. Yet here’s this little airline from Chile that’s found a way to make things work. This could never happen with a US-based carrier since it must require some serious political ties. But for that Chilean airline, there is great money to be made.

Pittsburgh International Airport’s $1.1B project prepares for takeoffPittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh’s airport terminal was built to be a major USAir hub. Then USAir walked away. Since then, it continues to have a terminal that’s bigger than needed with a train connecting the landside (which had been only for ticketing/baggage since the regional terminal was killed) to the airside. Now, the airport wants to spend $1.1 billion to build a new landside facility that would be attached to the airside terminal. The train would disappear and the number of gates would shrink. Then they’d redevelop the old landside. The only problem? It would apparently save only $23 million a year in operating expense. So, you know, unless they think there’s a billion dollar deal to be hand to redevelop the landside, it’s going to take nearly 50 years to pay it off. Right.

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18 Comments on "3 Links I Love: Qantas’s Position of Strength, Making Money Where No Airline Can, Pittsburgh Spends A Lot to Save a Little"

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AJ
Member
Australian reader checking in. Dubai is a pretty awful stopover choice when compared with Changi which is probably why people lean towards an SE Asian airport. I’m based in Melbourne and soon the only direct Qantas flight to London will be either via Perth (787) or Sydney (A380). Given that choice, I’d rather avoid 20 hours in an economy seat and break it up, and if given *that* choice, I’d take SIN/HKG/BKK/KUL over DXB/AUH/DOH. For those with QFF status (and there’s a few of us around), the Emirates experiment has been middling at best. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has called… Read more »
HH
Guest

Starting in March, you can fly Qantas to Singapore (QF 37), and then connect to QF1 to LHR. It’ll be a fairly competitive option to get to London and to maintain your Qantas status credits.

AC
Member

On the PIT project, the plan seems to be pretty well thought out, including full buy-in from all the airlines. They’re making a *lot* of profit these days and it has to be spent on themselves. The current facility is already strained landside as far as security goes with all the new O&D. If they have to spend the money, it makes sense to get it set up for the future and reconfigure properly.

cball793
Guest
I would tend to agree actually. While at first glance the project seems extravagant for an airport of its size, the situation as it is untenable for more than the immediate short-term. The facility is now 25 years old, approaching 30 years old by the time any current proposal would actually open, not to mention that it hasn’t been renovated (other than some very minor cosmetic updates) since it was built. As a former PIT-based traveler, the facility, in particular the landslide terminal and pre 9-11 designed security checkpoint, are definitely showing their age and no longer work well for… Read more »
stan
Guest

the big deal here is that after 25+ years some expensive infrastructure (like the underground train connecting the land- and air-side terminals) is in need of serious overhaul. instead of spending money and keeping the airport as-is, with way more gates than needed and way more capacity, i think it seems wise to do something different and move on. i think this will result in a more right-sized, smaller capacity airport that will be easier to operate and more user-friendly.

stewart.smith
Member
When Qantas switched its main Australia to London route to be via Dubai and hooked up with Emirates, an important part of the strategy was to provide a pathway for Australian travellers to get to a large number of European destinations via connections in Dubai that would have a Qantas code share and Qantas revenue share, via Emirates flights. Qantas had previously been unable to sustain adequate load factors on its own aircraft to virtually any European destinations except London. So, Qantas could make Dubai a hub, with QF flights from various Australian cities arriving at similar times, with one… Read more »
Matthew
Member

Biggest problem with the new landside is that it cuts off those taxiway access for the D and C gates to the 12 L/R/C runways. Now aircraft there have to taxi all the way around the east side when departing from the 12’s.

Matthew
Member

Also…you know…the cost of the entire freakin’ thing.

Greg N
Guest

That article on LAW is very interesting. However, all it says is “They take care of the legal process of getting the dollars and it has worked spectacularly.” I wonder how Estelar accomplishes that when big airlines like UA, AA, etc. haven’t been able to make it work. I guess, as you say, they must have some serious political ties, or if they pay some sort of fee/bribe to smooth out the process.

Kilroy
Guest
Interesting that Dulcinelli mentions the racism in Chile (also Argentina, from what I experienced). As context, almost all of the natives in the Southern Cone were killed or died off, so Argentines and Chlieans tend to be rather southern European looking, reflecting their mostly Italian and Spanish ancestry. Immigrants from norther South America (especially Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay, but also other countries) tend to do the hard, low-paying jobs in Chile and Argentina, similar to the role of undocumented Hispanic immigrants in the US. There is a LOT of racism against Bolivians, Peruvians, etc in Argentina and Chile, both by… Read more »
Jonathan DeFazio
Member
As a Pittsburgh native I am torn on what to think of this new project. It looks exciting but I can’t understand why Cassotis is so intent on getting rid of the landside terminal. She always talks about how we have too much “space” at the airport, I agree with her only in the case of the airside terminal though. I fly in and out often and a lot of times I do look around the airside terminal and think “wow this airport is dead” in addition the airside terminal is beginning to show it’s age, it looks very “90s”.… Read more »
stan
Guest
i posted above, but i’ll reiterate here… i’m a relocated pittsbugh native , and i used to think that the “new airport” was amazing. it’s still really nice, but it is 25+ years old some really expensive infrastructure like the train connecting the terminals needs to be overhauled. i think that instead of just refurbishing what is already thereit makes sense to right-size the midfield terminal and make things flow more easily for passengers. at early-90s capacity, the separate terminal strategy made more sense, but i think it makes more sense now to do something like the described plan. when… Read more »
southbay flier
Guest

As long as one can get to an airport an hour prior to flight time and have enough time to check a bag and board a flight without rushing, then the airport is fine. People don’t pick where they fly based on airport quality. I mean if niceness of airport was a huge factor, then no one would ever visit NY and its hell hole airports.

A terminal built in the 1990’s does not need to be replaced or heavily renovated. I would not be happy to see my money used on a project like that.

Nikki Gledhill
Member

Thanks for sharing this article!