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Australia and New Zealand are getting closer with Airbus help

Anastasia Dagaeva
December 4, 2017

Airbus expects strong traffic growth in the South Pacific market will continue over the next 20 years, increasing the number of Australasian hubs ranked in the largest global categories. There are currently three cities in the region which Airbus classifies as aviation “megacities” with more than 10,000 long-haul passenger movements per day, said Iain Grant, the company’s vice president for Pacific sales. These three are Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, and Auckland in New Zealand. Melbourne and Sydney are actually in the 20,000-plus category. Good news for Qantas and Air New Zealand — the region’s major legacy carriers.

Both Qantas and Air New Zealand have revealed they are considering ordering next-generation wide-bodies to launch new ultra-long-haul routes. Qantas wants to be able to serve London and the US east coast nonstop from the major Australian east coast cities, while Air New Zealand wants to be able to serve the US east coast nonstop from Auckland. In its latest market forecast the company says the passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats serving Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region would grow by more than 600 aircraft, almost doubling in the next 20 years to more than 1350 aircraft. About 360 of this larger fleet will be single aisle and 250 will be twin aisles, including 50 aircraft with 400 or more seats.

The Airbus survey shows that New Zealanders are among the world's most frequent travellers. In New Zealand, both inbound and outbound tourism combined has doubled every 10 years since 1995. Outbound travel from Australia has been significantly ahead of inbound travel for about the past 10 years, according to Airbus. However, inbound travel has been catching up, and should match outbound travel in the near future, said Airbus. The announcement came when Airbus proposed a A350-900ULR version of its newest jetliner capable of covering 18 000 km. Qantas had publicly challenged Airbus and its US rival Boeing to boost the range of the A350 and 777X models to allow it to complete “the last frontier” of commercial flying by 2022, Reuters reported.

“We are bringing in our A350-900ULR which is going to do the Sydney — London mission and we are very comfortable with that and we will continue to work with them to meet their requirements,” Iain Grant said of the Qantas challenge. A nonstop Sydney-London route that is three hours shorter than current flights involving stops would allow Qantas to charge a premium and differentiate its product from the around two dozen other airlines flying the so-called Kangaroo route with transit stops in Singapore, Dubai, Doha and Hong Kong. The “Big Three” Gulf airlines are expected to be the prime target for a future competition.

A relaxation of border procedures, notably with China and India, has led to inbound tourism from China tripling in the last 10 years and tourism from India growing at 12% a year. With long distances and island states with a reliance on air transportation, the Australia-South Pacific inter regional growth would match the world average 4.4 a year, outstripping other established aviation markets such as the US, Japan and Europe averaging 3.7%. The Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific economy is set to almost double its size to $2.7 trillion by 2036, and its population to increase by 25% from 40 to 50 million in 20 years. Combined with an additional 11 million people who can be defined as middle class, representing 95% of the population by 2036, these drivers will continue to stimulate growth of the region's air traffic, the Toulouse-based manufacturer proposed. 

Photo by Wikipedia Commons / Mehdi Nazarinia