Sydney | Published on 1st September 2017 at 8:53

First published as an Opinion piece in The Australian, 1 September 2017

Qantas has made some big announcements recently that will shape our international network. And they will also shape how Australians travel over the next decade.

The changes are being driven by technology (like new aircraft), the weight of global growth (namely Asia) and what customers are telling us they want (make it easier and faster).

In terms of how and where we fly, this boils down to three options.

By 2022, we want to be flying direct from the eastern states to New York and London. In aviation terms, this is a last frontier. We’ve asked Boeing and Airbus to increase the range of their next generation aircraft to make it possible, and both CEOs have told me they are up for the challenge.

From early next year we’ll be flying direct from Perth to London. It’s the first regular direct air link between Australia and any part of Europe, and it’s made possible by the Dreamliners.

And this week we announced that we’re extending our cornerstone partnership with Emirates, which has played a big part in getting Qantas International back on its feet.

Outside Qantas, moving our hub to Dubai in 2012 was seen as a gutsy move. Inside Qantas, we knew it was a no-brainer. As much as Aussies love to see the world, Qantas could never fly to the 40 European destinations that Emirates does. The partnership lets us tap into their network and share some of the revenue it generates.

More than 1.2 million Qantas customers a year now travel on Emirates to Europe via Dubai. It’s trebled in five years. And it’s a travel option that many Australians now see as a no brainer as well.

Because the partnership works for customers, and the fact Emirates has almost 80 flights a week between Australia and Dubai, we’re able to move some of our A380 flying from the Middle East, to Asia.

While Qantas is an “end of the line” carrier with no hub to call its own, we’ve got other advantages. In 2017, we’re on the doorstep of the fastest growing aviation market in the world. Between free trade agreements, a rising middle class and the attraction of Australia as a place to take a holiday, there is a growing tide of goods and people moving between the two continents.

You can see it in where our aircraft are flying. Ten years ago, Qantas and Jetstar had around 30 per cent of its capacity focused on Asia. Now it’s more than 50 per cent.

So ultimately, the future of travel for Australia is shaping up to be a number of impressive choices given its geography. Fly direct to London or (ultimately) New York. Fly via Dubai to access much of Europe in one stop. Or fly via Singapore to access markets in Asia before flying on to the UK.

It’s certainly a far cry from stopping seven times on the original kangaroo route.

Alan Joyce