Weekly wrap – 22 April 2023

MYLES STEDMAN reviews the biggest stories in the travel industry this week.

THE prayers of many in the travel industry are seemingly being answered, with this week bringing capacity ramp-ups to Australia from a number of international carriers.

United Airlines kicked off the week by announcing its largest expansion in the region in its history, with it set to add 40% more flights from the United States to the region in the southern summer, including new flights from Los Angeles to Brisbane. UA’s three weekly frequencies from LAX-BNE will see the airline become the largest carrier between the US and Brisbane, and will complement its new services between BNE and San Francisco – which will go daily in Oct. United’s Sydney to San Francisco flights will also go twice daily, and UA will fly its largest aircraft type – the Boeing 777-300ER – from MEL-SFO, adding nearly 100 seats to each departure.

Strong demand for the Queensland market has also led Air Canada to increase seats on its Brisbane-Vancouver service for the 2023/24 southern summer season by more than a third. From November, Air Canada will replace its 298-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a 400-seat Boeing 777-300ER, operating fives times per week, before moving to daily from December to March. Air Canada has also revealed plans to boost frequencies on its Sydney-Vancouver route, with the daily departure to be supplemented by an additional three flights per week between December and January.

However it wasn’t just the international carriers causing a buzz locally, with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) announcing its opposition to Qantas Airways’ acquisition of Alliance Aviation Services. The ACCC concluded, after a thorough investigation, the transaction is likely to substantially lessen competition in markets for the supply of air transport services to resource industry customers in Western Australia and Queensland.

“We consider Alliance to be an important competitor to Qantas, and the removal of Alliance is likely to substantially lessen competition threatening increased prices and reduced service quality for customers,” Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

Qantas said it will seek more information on the ACCC’s decision, and that it remains confident the acquisition would not substantially lessen competition in any market. “The airline has requested a meeting with the ACCC to understand its decision, which is at odds with the increasingly competitive nature of the segment and views expressed by a competitor that the acquisition would not lessen competition,” Qantas said.

Elsewhere in the industry, Bicton Travel announced the acquisition of Claremont Cruise & Travel Centre, marking its growth in the Perth market. The independent travel agency will complete the purchase in July from owner Lyn Murphy, who will continue to consult within the business.

The Travel Junction (TTJ) also announced the launch of several new service enhancements to support the travel trade earlier this week, including a new Australian-based reservations sales team. From May, travel advisors can contact TTJ’s team of wholesale travel experts six days a week via both phone and email to receive personalised expert advice, including qualified product recommendations, and assistance.

In the cruise sector, Warner Bros Discovery announced the production of a new series, Maritime Masters: Expedition Antarctica, which will showcase life on board Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ Scenic Eclipse. The new docu-series will exhibit an access-all-areas look at key characters from the Eclipse crew, while tracking Eclipse from Baja California through the fjords & channels of Chile and to Antarctica.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International’s official 2024-2025 Australia seasonal sailings will be on sale from 04 May, with two of the cruise line’s ships set to return down under. Guests can look forward to a total of 45 sailings on Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas between October 2024 and April 2025.

Elsewhere in the cruise world, Holland America Line celebrated its 150th anniversary this week, Cruise Lines International Association President & Chief Executive Officer Kelly Craighead was named godmother of Emerald Cruises’ Emerald Sakara, and Norwegian Cruise Line is readying Norwegian Jewel for a restart in Asia.

It seems like almost all sectors of the Australian travel industry are finally firing on all cylinders again – keep your eyes trained to travelBulletin, Travel Daily, and Cruise Weekly next week to see whose big news is next.

Have a great weekend,

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