Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) has finalized its decision to split the two upcoming daytime Australia – Tokyo Haneda frequencies between Qantas and Virgin Australia.
With that, the latter is ready to launch flights its first route to Japan, connecting Brisbane with the Japanese capital.
Virgin Australia’s Upcoming Brisbane – Tokyo Route
While the exact schedules are not known yet, according to a release by the Queensland Government, the Virgin Australia flights are expected to start on March 29, 2020, and operate daily.
The airline plans to use its Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the route, offering 20 business class and 255 economy class seats on each flight.
Kate Jones, Queensland’s Tourism Industry Development Minister, expects the new flights to provide a significant boost to the local economy pointing to the time when the existing Qantas flight between the two cities was launched:
When the last direct flights from Tokyo to Brisbane came onboard in August 2015, we saw year-on-year growth in Japanese visitors of 22 per cent, from 160,000 in the year ended September 2015 to 195,000 in the year ended September 2016.
Paul Scurrah, Virgin Australia Group’s Managing Director and CEO, added that the flight will be:
…bringing much needed competition to a monopoly market. The Brisbane – Haneda market has a strong growth outlook and our research has shown this route will have significant benefits for business and leisure travelers, the tourism industry, and the Australian economy.
Tokyo will be Virgin Australia’s third destination in Asia after Hong Kong and Denpasar, and the airline will be the second one to operate between Brisbane and Tokyo.
Currently, Qantas operates daily flights using A330-300 aircraft. Those, however, use Tokyo Narita airport, and so, Virgin Australia will be the first airline to offer non-stop connection between Brisbane and Tokyo Haneda airport.
As for other connections between Australia and Japan, besides its flights from Brisbane to Tokyo Narita, Qantas also operates between Melbourne and Narita, Sydney and Tokyo Haneda, and Sydney and Osaka Kansai.
It remains to be seen whether the Australian flag carrier will use its new Haneda slots to add a new frequency from Sydney or to move its Melbourne flight from Narita.
Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary connects Cairns with Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai, as well as Gold Coast with Tokyo Narita.
While Qantas attempted to secure both of the new slot pairs at Tokyo Haneda so that it could move its Melbourne flights from Narita as well as increase frequency from Sydney, it wasn’t successful in doing so.
Instead, the IASC decided to award one of the slot pairs to Virgin Australia to increase the competition between Australia and Tokyo.
That will mark the return of a Virgin Group airline to Japan for the first time since Virgin Atlantic ceased its flights from London in 2015. It will also bring the first non-stop connection between Brisbane and Tokyo Haneda.