Qantas moves Asian hub, drops pork

Map showing path from Singapor to DubaiIn a deal announced last September but implemented now, Qantas have abandoned their Singapore hub.  In future all flights to Europe will pass through Dubai.

The new route is shorter and will save as much as $100m (US) per year in fuel costs.  Since the international arm of Qantas has been running at a loss, the savings are critically important.  Though, with a loss of $253m (US) reported in August 2012, the fuel savings alone will not be enough to bring them back into the black.  (An order for 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliners was cancelled back in August in the name of cost-cutting, despite the promised fuel efficiency improvement of those aircraft.)

Singapore vs Dubai : Freedoms and human rights

Both countries have very specific views as to what is permissible and choose to regulate aspects of life that are unregulated in most Western countries.  The change in hub does not therefore represent a significant change for passengers stopping over during their journey:  No drugs, no medicines, no public display of affection, and keep your mouth shut.  But you can chew gum in Dubai, except on public transport where it will cost you a Dh 100 fine.

New alliance

The old alliance with British Airways has been abandoned in favour of a new deal with Emirates.  Emirates is owned by the government of Dubai and backed by the royal family, and is therefore in a position to offer “sweeteners” to Qantas. Qantas have also had to concede certain routes to Emirates: they will no longer fly to Frankfurt, for example.

As alliance partners, Qantas will align its sales, flight schedules and pricing with Emirates.  One gets the distinct impression that Qantas is the junior partner in the alliance as they appear to give away more than they gain.

No pork

For the stated reason of cultural sensitivity Qantas is abandoning its own social and culinary traditions by eliminating pork from all flights that fly to, from, or via Dubai.  (A similar arrangement is already in place for flights to Indonesia.)  No alcohol will be used in food preparation.

Qantas continue to serve alcohol on board, as indeed does Emirates.  (Precious few airlines, even those that pointedly serve only 100% halal food, are completely “dry”.)

While the Qantas food loaded at Dubai can be expected to be halal, food loaded at other places, while not containing pork, may not necessarily have been subjected to Islamic slaughter and passengers desiring halal meals should still specify this when booking.

Passengers flying between Europe and Australia who desire tasty bacon, eisbein, ribs or other delicious pork products should book with a different airline.

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