Australia’s ash, Qantas overhaul & strike and Virgin Australia & Qantas upgrade offers

There has been some interesting airline news the last week or so from Australia, and here’s a recap:

  • The pesky ash cloud from the Chilean volcano made at least two passes over Australia & New Zealand in the past 10 days causing widespread flight cancellations and reroutings. From shutting down the major airports at Sydney and Melbourne for a day (or more for some airlines) to localized route-specific cancellations, the airlines had their hands full with rebookings. Travel waivers were issued allowing for cancellation & refunds. Let’s hope Diamond Head on Oahu stays dormant & the other Hawaiian volcanoes remain “normal” to avoid the same disruption in the U.S. as the Chilean one has in Australia and the Icelandic volcano did in Europe.
  • On August 24th this year Qantas will announce “a strategic renewal of Qantas international” likely overhauling many of the red kangaroo’s ailing international routes. It is all but certain that the carrier will pull out of select markets & instead look to enhance code-share flights with oneworld alliance partners. Qantas is also overhauling some of their A380s and 747s to include additional economy seats after removing first class entirely from select aircraft.
  • With added pressure from a rebranded Virgin Australia, Qantas has made adjustments to their frequent flyer program making elite status and upgrades easier to attain. Pricing & ticketing rule structures are also being more closely aligned to compete with Virgin Australia. Both carriers are also offering promotional upgrades with Qantas having a (targeted?) offer for U.S. American Express cardholders to upgrade a one-way segment of a roundtrip Dallas to Sydney Premium Economy ticket to Business Class. Virgin Australia within Australia is offering a taste of their domestic Premium Economy complete with lounge access starting at $35.
  • Previous strike threats were called off, but a new round is set to begin on Monday for Qantas, where maintenance engineers in Melbourne plan a two-hour work stoppage, followed by Perth on Tuesday and Brisbane on Wednesday. The airline is attempting to be proactive in substituting larger aircraft on routes assumed to take the biggest hit for delays & cancellations, and claims the majority of travelers “will remain on schedule.”


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