Routes Asia puts BNE on the map
Last month’s airline route planning event for this region, Routes Asia, provided a golden opportunity for the Queensland capital to raise its profile with decision makers from close to 100 airlines.
Routes Asia coincided with the announcement of firm and pending new air deals into Brisbane, including Virgin Australia’s new twice weekly Brisbane-Alice Springs regional service starting 19 June, to be operated in partnership with Alliance Airlines. There was also a Memorandum of Understanding inked between Vietjet Air and Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) which will see the development of non-stop flights from Ho Chi Minh City. The only things missing from Vietjet’s decision to be the first low-cost international carrier flying into Brisbane was a launch date (sometime in 2019), planned frequency and details as to which aircraft will be used to operate the service.
Qatar Airways also used Routes Asia as a platform to publicly put forward the case on why it should be granted an expanded bilateral air agreement with the Australian Government, which would enable the carrier to open-up the Doha-Brisbane route. Fathi Atti, Qatar Airways’ advisor of aviation & air transport matters all but suggested the oneworld carrier had aircraft on standby awaiting an expanded air services agreement.
In his presentation, Atti declared “Brisbane is the last point in Australia which is not covered and our most important point not on our route map”. He said that in the last 12 months the number of Queenslanders flying with Qatar Airways to destinations around the world from other Australian hubs had jumped from 16,000 movements to 23,000. Indeed, QR has done the maths and estimates that up to 50,000 visitors would fly the BNE-DOH route annually. “And it’s not only passengers that Qatar Airways would bring to Brisbane, it’s cargo, culture and investment,” Atti said.
Atti highlighted the “disadvantage” Qatar Airways was facing compared to its Gulf rivals from the UAE — namely Emirates and Etihad Airways which have approval for 84 and 63 frequencies respectively into Australia, versus Qatar Airways’ 21. He argued that the Doha-based airline offered 137 more “unique” global destinations than Qantas has on its network, including 53 in Europe and 19 in Africa.
Aside from city-pairing talk, Routes Asia also gave Brisbane Airport Corporation the opportunity to spruik the development of its second runway (now just a little over 24 months from opening), and showcase the south east corner of Queensland.
BAC general manager airline and retail management Andrew Brodie, the brains behind securing Routes Asia 2018 for Brisbane about four years ago, admitted the region of Queensland was largely “unclear” to wholesalers in north and southeast Asia. He told travelBulletin that feedback suggested they knew the Great Barrier Reef and the Gold Coast well, but not so much Brisbane.
“On the back of that I pulled our partners together. Tourism Australia, Tourism & Events Queensland, Brisbane Marketing, the convention centre, the Star Entertainment Group (which is developing the $3 billion Queen’s Wharf precinct), Tangalooma Island, all the key corporates around town and said ‘okay, how do we change the knowledge of Brisbane and the south east corner in those really key markets?’,” Brodie explained. And the decision was made that an event be held.
“Brisbane is one of those cities where seeing is believing, and on the back of that we went on this journey with all those partners hand-in-hand.”
He said that through their joint investment, Routes Asia attracted nearly 1,000 delegates from over 100 airlines for the event with many given the opportunity to explore the south east corner of Queensland first-hand, visiting locations such as Tangalooma Island Resort and Lady Elliott Island.