Most travellers would have been surprised at today’s announcement that Jetstar Asia and Valuair are starting to codeshare with Qantas, because they would have assumed they always had.
Qantas and Jetstar have codeshared on most of their routes since Jetstar began flying in 2004.
The important question is why has this announcement really been made?
It is reasonable to speculate on two grounds for extending QF flights numbers to Jetstar Asia, the Singapore based franchise.
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One would be the immense importance Qantas places on using Singapore to base more of its assets, following its transfer of two Australian registered Jetstar A330-200s to Changi airport.
The other would be to engage Virgin Blue in a contest for the value-added middle ground in the immediate future, and imitate the modular pricing system Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue’s trans Tasman alliance partner, has already brought to its regional economy class product.
In today’s announcement by Jetstar it refers specifically to complimentary meals and full service carrier baggage allowances being extended to some Qantas passengers.
This follows its announcing these selective enhancements to Qantas oneworld partner passengers using Jetstar services across most of the Australian network.
Codesharing itself, which brings efficiency to both online fare shoppers and retail agents handling complex itineraries is simple common sense stuff that travellers already expect and airlines would hardly bother announcing in the normal course of events.
In the bigger picture, Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti, has spoken of using the airline’s competitive cost base to provide a full service quality alternative to Qantas domestic flights at the corporate account level.
Perhaps the response to this at Qantas is to use Jetstar’s competitive cost base to offer attractive enhancements to part of the customer range Virgin Blue attracts.
Could this be a sign of a race starting for the middle market segment between Jetstar and Virgin Who?