Australia’s Travel Insiders Reveal The Airlines They Want To See Fly Down Under

Does Australia need more airlines flying in? Heck yeah it does. Resident expert Andrew Curran reveals the up and coming airlines to watch.

Australia’s Travel Insiders Reveal The Airlines They Want To See Fly Down Under

Image: DMARGE/Romer Macapuno

Does Australia need more airlines flying in? Hell yeah it does, if you go by the reactions of everybody except the Qantas C-suite crew to last year’s Qatar Airways fiasco…

The Australian government’s decision not to let Qatar put on more flights to Australia’s busiest airports caused a storm of fury that took many by surprise, including the nothing-to-see-here federal transport minister. Six months later, the same government waved through an application by Turkish Airlines to start flights to Australia, avoiding another prolonged bullocking.

Turkish Airlines, with its massive hub in Istanbul, modern aircraft, and top-tier inflight product — if you can ignore the high-rotation brand adverts on its inflight entertainment system — is a soon-to-be addition to Australian airport departure screens, as is the return of South African Airways to Perth in April, and the start of El Al flights to Melbourne in June.

But is this enough? DMARGE asked around to see which other airlines Australians would benefit from seeing fly down under…

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The agents at Adelaide-based Phil Hoffman Travel would like to see more European airlines fly in. They say the Lufthansa Group — which includes Swiss Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, and Brussels Airlines — would be welcome because of their extensive worldwide network beyond their hubs. The Air France & KLM Group falls into the same category.

Regular travellers on European carriers will know there are some tasty long-haul products in that mix, including a top-tier business cabin on Swiss and a fabulous first-class cabin on Air France.

British Airways is the only European carrier still flying to Australia. Flying BA used to be about as pleasant as eating a three-day-old Tesco hotdog, but the airline has raised its game on the Australian run lately, putting on aircraft with its latest Club Suites, complete with sliding doors.

The British Airways Club Suite
The immaculate British Airways Club Suite. Image: The Luxury Travel Expert

Finnair also flies into Sydney daily, albeit on behalf of Qantas. However, the Singapore–Sydney sector has a particular set of Qantas-flavoured quirks, including Neil’s boring-as-batsh*t salads and a Qantas-supplied mattress topper that doesn’t fit the Finnair seat properly.

Ryan Soh of YouTube’s Ryan So Fly channel says that except for BA, the old-school European legacy carriers no longer have a place on the Australia–Europe run. Instead, he says we need to see more Middle Eastern carriers in Australia. Ryan likes Oman Air, Saudi Arabia Airlines, and Riyadh Air.

“Oman Air is a niche boutique airline from the Middle East which has slipped under the radar of many,” he told DMARGE…

“They certainly have the right aircraft to fly Muscat to Australia, and their in-flight product is some of the best in the business. Oman isn’t interested in mass tourism, which explains their approach to layovers — relaxed and discerning. It’s a great way to fly to and from Europe.”

Ryan Soh of Ryan So Fly

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is investing billions in its airlines and tourism industry to become less dependent on oil revenues. Ryan acknowledges the prospect of travelling to or transiting through the country makes some people squeamish, but he says competitive fares and short transit times could convince many people to give them a go.

Saudi is an established legacy airline and Riyadh Air is a startup but alas, both are dry airlines. On the plus side, they have squadrons of new planes and a very good hard product. “These two airlines would be a great alternative to the present domination of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar,” Ryan said.

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Jet
Could Ethiopian Airlines be a dark horse in the race for new Aussie carriers? Image: Boeing

Neither mentioned Ethiopian Airlines, which has the equipment to fly nonstop to Australia. The airline has built a decent hub in Addis and a solid reputation for its inflight product. Ethiopian has an extensive African network as well as decent connections into Europe. It would be an interesting addition to Australian airport departure boards.

Indian low-cost powerhouse airline IndiGo is that country’s biggest airline, even bigger than the soon-to-be merged Air India/Vistara combo. It has a massive backlog of undelivered aircraft, including long-range narrowbody Airbus jets capable of making it to Australia.

Aside from an extensive domestic network, it flies to masses of cities in countries surrounding India. Not everyone will want to do 12 hours on a low-cost airline flying to Delhi, but many would take it for the lowered price point. After all, not everybody has the funds, points, or motivation to park their backside in a Q suite.

The biggest airline you’ve never heard of, IndiGo, could snap up a massive market share if they made the big move down under. Image: Flight Global

New carriers bring diversity and competition to the market, which is great for passengers. But Australia’s geographical position as an end-of-the-line market has always worked against it. It costs a lot of money to fly here, and there isn’t a massive amount of feeder traffic for operators to tap. On the flipside, Australians like to travel and despite carrying on about high fares, seem prepared to pay them…

As long as the Aussies keep slapping down their Amex cards for flights, there’s no doubt that quality operators will keep looking for opportunities in the Australian market.