QANTAS will cancel flights from Perth and Adelaide to some Asian destinations but increase services from east coast cities as part of an overhaul of its network ahead of its alliance with Emirates.
With just eight weeks to go before the launch of the tie up, Qantas has detailed a rejig of its Asian network which will result in flights leaving up to four hours earlier so that they connect better with other services.
Qantas also announced that it will stop flying to Frankfurt on April 15 - six months earlier than planned.
The airline will cease services between Adelaide and Singapore on April 14, and between Perth and Hong Kong on March 31. It will reduce Perth-Singapore services from two to one a day.
However, Qantas will increase its Brisbane-Hong Kong services from four a week to seven by June, and add four additional weekly flights between Sydney and Singapore.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon accused Qantas of abandoning South Australia on international routes. The long-haul pilots' union also said it was "a predictable part of the plan to outsource a lot of Qantas's international operations to other operators".
Macquarie Equities analyst Russell Shaw said the reductions to flights from Perth did not "reflect well on Qantas's view of the resources boom". He also pointed out that Singapore Airlines will become the sole operator on the Adelaide-Singapore route once Qantas exits.
But Qantas insisted that the changes will result in more options for people in Perth and Adelaide to travel to Asia and Europe via partner airlines including Emirates.
The total number of Qantas flights to Asian destinations will remain about the same once the changes are made, but the total number of seats available will increase.
That is because seats that were previously set aside on Qantas planes for passengers flying to Europe will now be available to those heading to Asia. The airline flagged that it will consider increasing flights to Beijing and Delhi from 2016 using longer-range Dreamliner planes. It also named Seoul, Mumbai and Tokyo's Haneda Airport as possible destinations.
However, analysts treated the announcement with caution because it is dependent on Qantas turning around its international operations. The airline is also yet to decide whether it will turn into "firm orders" its "options" to buy 787-9 Dreamliners at a set price.
Qantas and Emirates still need final approval for their alliance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. It is expected to make a decision in March.
Qantas's budget offshoot, Jetstar, has also announced that a former senior manager at TNT, Edward Lau, will become the inaugural chief executive of Jetstar Hong Kong.