Australia’s booming tourism industry is set for another boost when Qantas’ first Melbourne-Tokyo Narita service takes off this week.
The new daily service is being launched in response to strong demand, as travel between Japan and Australia grows at around 20 per cent a year, and will be operated by an upgraded, two-class Airbus A330-300 aircraft fitted with Qantas’ signature Marc Newson interiors.
It takes the number of seats the national carrier offers on Japanese routes each week to 6000, following the launch of new Sydney-Tokyo Haneda and Brisbane-Tokyo Narita routes in 2015 – with extensive onward connections in both countries.
Inbound flights on the new route are timed to link smoothly to the rest of Qantas’ Australian domestic network, including popular destinations like Hobart, Adelaide and Perth, while outbound services will connect with Jetstar’s extensive domestic network within Japan.
Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said the new route was the latest example of the national carrier growing its international network to meet demand and unlock opportunities for Australia in Asia.
“The clear message from our Japanese customers was that they wanted a direct link into Melbourne – so we’re delighted to be opening up that gateway for them today,” Mr Evans said.
“We’ve had a great response from Victorian tourism operators and the many companies in Melbourne who do business with Japan.
“With a new Free Trade Agreement in place, there’s tremendous potential to build on the fantastic growth we’ve already seen in this market, and we want the Qantas Group to lead the way in making it happen.”
The route launch means Tokyo becomes the eighth international destination Qantas serves out of the Victorian capital. Flights to Christchurch began on 4 December, while Qantas confirmed earlier this week that Melbourne-Los Angeles would be the launch route for its game-changing Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Features of the Airbus A330 that serve the new route include the latest generation of its award-winning Recaro seat in Economy, a lie-flat Business Suite that can be reclined during take-off and landing, and more than 1500 inflight entertainment options.
QF79 is set to depart Melbourne at 9.15am and QF80 will depart from Narita at 7pm, with launch celebrations in both cities, including a water cannon salute and ribbon cutting ceremony.