I'm amazed that anyone tolerates the prices and wankery associated with the Australian airline duopoly, particularly from its price and social-engineering leader Qantas.
As you'll read in the story from the Australian today (below), long-term average price for a Qantas business class Melbourne Sydney flight is $1410.
I happily travel on Air Asia. The planes are new, the staff are friendly and helpful and the prices are a fraction of Qantas's. And there's no social engineering!
Check for yourself - you can fly from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur for $230! From KL most Asian destinations are about $50.
Searches by The Weekend Australian revealed business class seats on Brisbane-Melbourne flights from $1139 with Qantas and $799 with Virgin Australia, compared to long-term averages of $1600 and $1199 respectively.
On Sydney-Perth flights, business class seats were as low as $1799 on Virgin and $2300 on Qantas, and premium seats on Melbourne-Sydney routes cost from $700 with Qantas and $650 with Virgin Australia, down from $1410 and $999.
Westpac Bank senior economist Matthew Hassan said consumers had been very restrained in their spending for several years.
“There has been a clampdown on discretionary spending and bigger ticket items,” Mr Hassan said. “It may also be to do with corporates tightening up expense policies.”
Any shift away from business class travel was not expected to last long, or lead to airlines going down the same path as carriers in Europe, where business passengers were placed in an economy row with an empty middle seat.
Aviation consultant Neil Hansford said he was confident the business class cabin would prevail on domestic flights.
“They’ve got to keep them there because we live in a capitalist society with elitists who are not going to go back into the zoo,” Mr Hansford said.
In May, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce spoke of a softening in some segments of the corporate market but yesterday a spokesman said demand for business class was “healthy” on domestic flights in July.
A Virgin Australia spokeswoman said it remained committed to business class, which provided a “premium travel experience”.
“We have been happy with the customer take-up of these seats since we … launched the domestic product back in 2012,” she said.
Premium seats continue to be highly prized on international routes.
The Qantas spokesman said it was adding more seats to premium cabins on their reconfigured A380s to meet demand, and 787-9 Dreamliners were designed with more premium seats.