Air Canada’s
decision to fly Los Angeles-Sydney direct might be the best news Qantas has had
since Chris Corrigan took control of Virgin Blue.

On the face of it, Air Canada
would break the duopoly enjoyed by Qantas and United on Qantas’ most profitable
route – but the reality is that the lumberjack airline is providing a
first-rate blocking play against Singapore Airlines.

Scott Rochfort had it right in the Smage as he rounded up the usual Qantas captive, Bruce Baird, along with some less
likely suspects. A third player just might be enough to allow the pro-Qantas
lobby in Parliament House to keep the Singaporeans out.

But what Rochfort didn’t go into is that
Qantas has nothing to fear from Air Canada’s
service standards – unlike Singapore Airlines.

To put it gently, Air Canada
doesn’t make the list of the world’s top ten airlines. Its reputation is no
better than United Airlines – and United might claim it is worse. Whatever the
faults of the mangy roo down the back of the bus, it remains comfortably in
front of any North American competition. So while the two-horse race across the
Pacific is going to become three, Qantas is the only one running on four legs.

The bad news for the faltering Australian
tourism industry is that the chance to fly Air Canada
isn’t going to entice anyone to suddenly travel to the other side of the
earth. While Singapore Airlines has the
panache and marketing budget to encourage an increase in the overall market to
the betterment of the Australian economy, Air Canada
will just help keep Qantas’ bottom line healthy.

And as far as the Roo’s captive politicians
go, that’s perfectly all right.

Peter Fray

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