Despite reports that some passengers could wait up to 10 hours for connections in Dubai on the way to Europe as part of its fledgling Emirates alliance, Qantas has declared that travelling to the continent via its new Middle East hub will be faster than going through Singapore.
Qantas, which on March 31 will launch its new route from Australia to Europe via Dubai, has released research which shows that its flights from Melbourne and Sydney to London will be about 30 minutes shorter than travelling through Singapore or Hong Kong.
Qantas is under pressure over its switch from Singapore to Dubai as its hub to Europe as well as fare discounting on the route announced last week by China Southern. The Chinese airline is muscling into the Australia-London route, via its home city of Guangzhou, and in the short-term is dramatically undercutting Qantas fares.
The travel industry is also waiting to see whether Australian travellers will embrace Dubai as a stopover option after decades of favouring Singapore and other Asian cities for layovers. But Qantas has released further research which shows that Dubai is second only to Singapore as a preferred stopover destination for Australians.
The Qantas research shows that the longest transit time in Dubai for these London flights will be one hour 45 minutes. It also shows that total travel time to the top 10 destinations in Europe is, on average, two hours 15 minutes less compared to the Qantas network through Asia.
"Though passengers will naturally need to wait for a connecting flight to Europe, there are some significant time savings overall," a Qantas spokesman said. "For example, flying from Sydney to Barcelona on the existing Qantas network requires stops in Singapore and London. On the combined Qantas-Emirates network this same trip would require only a single stop in Dubai and take three hours less."
Qantas says that in some cases customers will benefit from lower airport fees by bypassing London's Heathrow and flying direct from Dubai to their final destinations in Europe. It could mean a saving of around $100 in airport charges and taxes, the spokesman said.
Qantas will also introduce Dubai Connect, matching Emirates' long stopover service in Dubai, which provides customers with free accommodation, transfers, meals and visa costs if their connections are greater than six hours or less than 24 hours for first and business passengers, or greater than eight hours and less than 24 hours for premium economy and economy passengers.
But Qantas expects less than 10 per cent of its passengers will need to be offered use of the service. The research about preferred transit and stopover cities shows that 64 per cent of passengers rate Singapore as a place of interest, 61 per cent rate Dubai and 60 per cent Hong Kong. Down the list are Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Kualar Lumpur and Bangkok.
Dubai v Singapore on Qantas
Sydney to London – 30 minutes faster
Sydney to Manchester - 2hrs 15mins hrs faster
Brisbane to Barcelona – 5hrs 25 mins hrs faster
Melbourne to Milan – 3.45 hrs faster
Sydney to Rome – 3hrs 5 mins faster
Sydney to Zurich – 5hrs and 40 mins faster
Melbourne to Zurich – 5hrs and 10 mins faster
Perth to Barcelona – 2hrs 45 mins faster