Buckle your seatbelts and shot your saké; Qantas just launched a new route that will have skiers and snowboarders reaching guiltily for their credit cards: Sydney to Sapporo.
Although the new route was announced in April, the first jets of the seasonal service took off this morning, coinciding with the busy ski season in Japan, with Qantas announcing the launch with gusto, or, should we say, oishiku.
As The Flying Roo’s press department said this morning, “Qantas is the only airline to connect Australia directly with the Hokkaido region and the service is the national carrier’s fifth route between Australia and Japan.”
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The Aussie flagship carrier also revealed it will extend its seasonal service to Sapporo for another year, and provided further details regarding the service’s schedule: “The flights will operate three times per week during the 2020-21 ski season from 14 December 2020 to 27 February 2021,” Qantas said, “with the airline’s upgraded A330.”
“The seasonal service will offer more than 10,000 seats on the route and is expected to drive tourism by creating a new option for travellers from the Hokkaido region to experience summer in Australia.”
Sapporo being the gateway to Hokkaido, home to such hidden gems as Sahoro and Nozawaonsen, as well as the more iconic ski destinations as Hakuba, Niseko and Yuzawa, Australian skiers and snowboarders are set to have a (ski) field day with this news.
“Of the seasonal launch, Qantas International CEO Tino La Spina said, “Sapporo has been a very popular route with our leisure travellers. We’ve seen strong demand for the new service, particularly out of Australia, but have also doubled the industry demand from Sapporo since announcing in April this year.”
“The demand gives us confidence to continue the seasonal service next year, and we’re pleased to announce today that the next seasonal service to Sapporo will commence on 14 December 2020.”
Qantas also this morning announced new non-stop flights from Melbourne, Australia to Haneda, Tokyo – becoming the first airline to launch non-stop flights between the two aviation hubs.
The year-round flights to Haneda will begin operating daily from 29 March 2020 with an Airbus A330 aircraft, replacing the airline’s existing service between Melbourne and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (and subject to government and regulatory approval).
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Qantas says “the flights are expected to save travellers more than an hour commuting into the city and complement Qantas’ existing daily flights from Sydney to Haneda which the Australian national carrier has operated since 2015.”
Qantas is also making improvements for customers flying from Haneda Airport, with eligible customers now able to access the Priority Lane at the airport’s security checkpoint, as well as Japan Airlines’ Sakura Lounge.
Qantas International CEO, Tino La Spina, said of the new route, “Japan is arguably the most in demand place in the world to visit in 2020 and our new flights will make it even more convenient to travel there from Australia.”
“The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with more than 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone.”
“In the past two years, we’ve expanded our network by adding three new routes to Japan to meet this growing demand: a year-round service to Osaka, a seasonal service to Sapporo, and now a new service between Melbourne and Haneda,” Tino continued.
Tino then said: “We’re the only airline to operate out of Australia’s three major east coast cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – into Japan and offer our customers the choice of flying into Tokyo (Narita), Tokyo (Haneda), Osaka and from today, Sapporo.”
“Our new Melbourne-Haneda flights gives our customers much easier access to Tokyo city centre and one of the world’s most important business markets.”
The International CEO then concluded by saying, “We expect the new Haneda service to be particularly popular with business travellers, who will save more than an hour of transit time in getting to the city and also starts ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
“This comes as Qantas marks its 72nd anniversary of flying to Japan this week.”
This comes in a context where Qantas operates more than 40 flights per week from Japan to Australia, including flights from Brisbane to Narita; Melbourne to Narita (from March 2020, this will be replaced with Melbourne to Haneda); and Sydney to Osaka, Haneda and Sapporo (seasonal).
Not to mention The Qantas Group’s low-cost carrier, Jetstar, operates flights from Cairns to Narita and Osaka, and Gold Coast to Narita. So whatever your budget; it might be time to trade those board shorts for thermals and your surfboard for skis.