THE news week ended on a high yesterday, with Qantas Airways to boost its international network, restoring capacity, adding more aircraft, and launching new routes.
In line with strong travel demand and the broader recovery of the aviation industry, Qantas will add more flights to key destinations including Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York City from late October.
Flights will double between Australia and Japan, with four daily frequencies to Tokyo, while two new international routes will launch from Brisbane to Wellington and Honiara.
Two Airbus A330s will be leased from Finnair to meet demand, with around 300 more pilots and flight attendants required to support the extra services.
Around one million seats will be added to Qantas’ international network over 12 months compared to its current schedule, which will see the airline’s international capacity grow to around 100% of pre-COVID-19 levels by March.
Industry eyes will now turn to fare sheets, with hopes the increased capacity will see decreased prices across the board.
Qantas was not the only iconic Australian travel company making headlines this week, with Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) on Monday announcing the acquisition of Luxperience, one of the country’s best-known luxury travel events.
Continuing FCTG’s luxury splurge, the Luxperience event will be positioned within the company’s global Luxury Travel Collection, which includes the Travel Associates and Scott Dunn brands.
Transferring from previous owner Diversified Communications, Luxperience will continue to operate on its own merits as a separate business entity, and will not be brand-aligned, Flight Centre said.
Event Director, Lynn Ormiston will transfer across with the business and will lead a first boutique version of Luxperience under its new ownership, to take place this year, from 14-16 November at ICC Sydney.
Tour operators and wholesalers were also winners this week, thanks to the new $9 million Reviving International Tourism Grant (RITG) program.
The funding is designed to support “bona-fide” inbound operators and tour operators/wholesalers to invest in the rebuilding and strengthening of international supply chain, as leisure-based travel continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme is open to members of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), as well as non-members, subject to endorsement from either organisation.
The RITG program, administered by Austrade, will be delivered in two streams over the 2022/23 and 2023/24 fiscal years.
Eligible ATEC members can apply for $15,000 in stream one, while CATO members can access $10,000, with the measure aiming to support reconnection with international markets.
Applicants must have taken part in a major international travel and tourism trade show between 2017 and 2022 in order to qualify for stream one. Funds can go towards participation in similar 2023, 2024, and 2025 events.
A further $2,000 is on offer in stream two to help launch “digital uplift” activities, including costs for website design, refresh, audit, or optimisation, with the aim of becoming more visible to international consumers.
Striking their own deal this week were CT Partners and Aeronology, with the travel buying network to enhance booking efficiency for its members through the new preferred partnership.
The collaboration streamlines access to NDC content in addition to low-cost carrier and GDS content for IATA-affiliated CT members on one portal.
Elsewhere in the travel industry, Travello appointed two key leaders, travel veterans Andrew McEvoy and Phil Gunter, as Chair and director respectively.
Albatross Tours also got a new Managing Director, with Shelley Poten easing the load of founder Euan Landsborough, while the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has appointed GSA Hospitality to represent it in Australia.
Also making news, Emirates and Singapore Airlines posted record results and AFTA members have been offered a discount on International Air Transport Association ID cards. In cruise, Royal Caribbean International announced its return to China from next year, while we also reported on new figures from Cruise Lines International Association which indicated that cruise sentiment among Aussies is higher than ever.
Let’s hope the next week of news will be as roundly positive for the industry as this week was!