QantasLink passengers flying to Sydney will no longer have to trudge through the airport car park to catch their connecting domestic flight after Qantas consolidated its domestic and QantasLink services into one terminal yesterday.
The change, which has been eight months in the making, means more than one million bush
customers annually will now bypass Terminal 2 (T2) and fly directly to Terminal 3 (T3) creating less confusion and a smoother journey post-flight.
But while T3 offers air-travellers more glitz and glamour, with an abundance of cafes and shops to please the most discerning consumer, an increase in retail therapy won’t be offset by lower fares.
Without T2 rents, the integration will effectively save Qantas money, but when it comes to passing on savings, it says its hands are tied.
Domestic chief executive officer Lyell Strambi told those present at yesterday’s launch in T3, cost pressures such as the carbon tax, increasing fuel costs and a deteriorating Australian exchange rate meant fare reductions for regional passengers were not on the cards.
“We’re always looking as a business to make sure we drive productivity and keep our costs as low as we can for our customers,” Mr Strambi said.
“But I think we all know, aviation is a very expensive business and we are always competing against other cost elements that are changing at the same time.
“What we look for is opportunities like this (to consolidate services) to reduce the costs to serve so we can keep our prices at a decent level for our customers.
“The good news is, you get this facility and we’re not going to put prices up.”
To accommodate the greater numbers at the terminal, an extra 80 seats have been installed in Qantas’ premium lounges, including the Qantas Club and domestic business lounge.
T3’s faster, smarter check-in services will also significantly reduce check-in times for QantasLink passengers – another added bonus.
Deputy premier and Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Stoner, who was on hand yesterday to mark the occasion, commended Qantas on its move.
The initiative, he said, was in line with activities undertaken through the NSW government’s $30 million partnership with Qantas which seeks to promote Sydney and regional NSW to the world and double overnight expenditure in the state by 2020.
“Delivering on this partnership is a key element of the NSW government’s strategy to increase tourism to NSW, providing a boost to our economy and helping to create more jobs,” Mr Stoner said. “There is no doubt the new domestic terminal arrangements will enhance the visitor experience and deliver a streamlined service to all passengers.”
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray echoed Mr Stoner’s sentiments.
“Following last month’s opening of the Qantas regional lounge at Tamworth, this move further shows how QantasLink is focused on improving the travel experience for travellers from regional areas,” Cr Murray said.
QantasLink operates 300-plus return flights a week between Sydney, Tamworth, Dubbo, Armidale, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Lord Howe Island and Gladstone.
It will perform its T3 services from gates 1A, 1B and 1C.