The Key Players On The Kangaroo Route

In the last 12 months, 2.2 million passengers have flown between Sydney and London – the so called Kangaroo Route. This is up about 20% over the past five years. 

Who are the key players on the route? OAG Traffic Analyser has produced some super interesting data for the year ending 30 September 2019. Ten airlines have a 80% market share on the Kangaroo Route. Let’s take a look.

The key player on the route is Emirates. Emirates carried 431,400 passengers on the Kangaroo Route in the past year. The airline has some 10 flights a day departing from five airports in Australia. Six of these ten flights use A380s. Despite holding the number one position on the Kangaroo Route, Emirates has scaled back its presence in Australia, dropping a few flights and reducing capacity. Most recently Emirates announced it was ending its Singapore – Brisbane fifth freedom flight.

The second biggest player on the Kangaroo Route is Singapore Airlines who carried 279,300 passengers over the past 12 months. Between Singapore Airlines and its subsidiary, Silk Air, there are 22 flights a day into eight Australian airports. While it has more than twice as many flights as Emirates out of Australia, Singapore Airlines only carries half the number of passengers through to London.

The third largest player on the Kangaroo Route is Qatar Airways who carried 227,300 passengers on the route in the last year. The Doha based airline enjoyed the biggest growth in passenger numbers on the route over the last five years. The airline is well regarded locally and is known for its daily tag flight into Canberra in addition to double daily flights to larger airports such as Sydney and Melbourne.

The fourth busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route is Etihad. Passenger numbers on Etihad fell as the airline scaled back services to Australia but they still flew 190,200 passengers on the Kangaroo Route in the past year. Services to Perth were axed and services to Sydney and Melbourne were reduced. Etihad’s performance was a drag on overall passenger number growth on the Kangaroo Route.

The fifth busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route is Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific is another airline with a good range of services to five Australian airports, flying 136,700 passengers last year on the Kangaroo Route, although it has axed its services between Cairns and Hong Kong. How the ongoing troubles in Hong Kong are impacting on passenger numbers on the Kangaroo Route now and into the short term future will be seen when the next round of data is released.

It is kind of interesting that Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas, is only the sixth busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route. Or maybe not when you think about it. The airline carried 121,600 passengers on the Kangaroo Route in the past 12 months. Discounting the Perth – London service which doesn’t constitute a Kangaroo Route flight, Qantas only offers two Kangaroo Route flights a day to London, one from Sydney and one from Melbourne. Compare that with what Emirates and Singapore Airlines offer.

The seventh busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route is a surprise – Royal Brunei Airlines. The airline only flies out of Melbourne and Brisbane (the Brisbane service is an A320neo) but they carried 75,200 passengers in the past 12 months. While Brunei has a mixed reputation because of its politics and savage social regime, keen pricing by the airline tends to overcome a lot of moral scruples.

British Airways, the flag carrier of the country at one end of the Kangaroo Route was the eighth busiest airline on the route, carrying 54,900 passengers over the last year. British Airways have drastically scaled back services to Australia over the past couple of decades. They now only run a single daily Boeing 777 service into Sydney.

The ninth busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route is Malaysia Airlines, another airline that has noticeably reduced services into Australia over the last few years. Malaysia Airlines carried 53,900 passengers on the Kangaroo Route in the last 12 months. Five years ago, Malaysia Airlines was the fourth busiest carrier on the Kangaroo Route. Since then, the airline has cut services to Brisbane and reduced services to all its other Australian ports.

The tenth busiest airline on the Kangaroo Route is Thai Airways – another airline facing a world of problems. Thai Airways carried 41,300 passengers on the Kangaroo Route in the last 12 months. Thai still has flights to a good range of Australian airports and offers some good fares.

So what’s my takeout from this OAG analysis? I’m surprised Emirates tops out over Singapore Airlines but it does so resoundingly. When I think about it, I’m not surprised but it still raises my eyebrows that Qantas is only the sixth busiest airline one the Kangaroo Route. Royal Brunei is the dark horse performer. Finally, the decline of both Thai and Malaysia Airlines on the Kangaroo Route is kind of sad – they were once very good airlines and great options for getting to London. 

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