Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) has added Paris to its growing list of direct-flight services into Europe with the new route from Perth timed to meet expected demand ahead of the 2024 Olympics.
The announcement comes on the heels of Qantas yesterday resuming flights to mainland China for the first time in three years with a service into Shanghai from Sydney.
The resumption of the Sydney-Shanghai route marks the final international destination to return to Qantas’ pre-COVID network since borders reopened.
However, the introduction of the Paris service is the first time that Qantas has flown into the French capital in almost two decades.
Qantas says the move follows the success of the airline’s direct flights from Perth to London and Rome, with the new year-round route to Paris expected to cut about three hours off the current fastest travel time from Perth to Paris.
From 12 July 2024, the 17-hour Perth-Paris flights will initially operate four days per week during the peak European summer with the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Services will move to three per week from mid-August 2024.
“This route has been on our wish list for a while and we think customers will be as pleased as we are to see it go on sale today,” says Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson.
“Our direct flights to London and Rome have been hugely popular and Paris is the next most-requested destination, so we know the demand for this service will be strong as well.
“Some of the first customers on these flights will be Australian athletes heading to Paris to compete at the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Hudson says Qantas will be the only airline offering these direct flights without a mid-point stopover.
“The schedule we’ve announced today will add more than 75,000 seats between Australia and Europe each year and we’ll be working with Tourism WA to help make the most of the opportunity to bring tourists here, knowing that direct flights are a big factor in people deciding where to travel,” Hudson says.
Qantas says the delivery of new aircraft in recent months will help the group lift its international capacity to more than 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels by the end year, with a target of 100 per cent capacity by the middle of next year.
Meanwhile, the Sydney-Shanghai route will operate five days per week with an Airbus A330 aircraft, adding more than 2,500 seats per week between Australia and China, growing to more than 4,000 seats per week when services increase to daily in late March next year.
Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace says the return to mainland China will benefit tourism and help strengthen trade links.
“Adding Shanghai back on our network map is great news for our customers, especially those travelling for business or visiting friends and relatives in China as well as providing critical additional air freight between the two countries,” says Wallace.
“The business travel market is a key focus for this route, and we expect the recent trade developments will drive more travel between Australia and China.
“While demand from Chinese visitors wanting to travel to Australia is below the record levels that we saw prior to the pandemic, demand has been steadily climbing since borders reopened.”
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.