Jetstar will begin flights to Canberra for the first time, with a 5x weekly Brisbane-Canberra service launching on 2 September 2021.
The Jetstar A320 services between Brisbane and the nation’s capital will run every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the following schedule (flights arrive/depart Canberra one hour later during daylight savings):
- JQ656 Brisbane 12:00 – Canberra 13:50
- JQ657 Canberra 14:30 – Brisbane 16:10
“We’re excited to introduce our great low fares to Canberra for the first time in our 17-year history and thank the ACT Government for their support,” Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said at the announcement of the new service.
Eligible Qantas Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members will have access to the Qantas lounges at Canberra Airport prior to Jetstar flights.
On the day Jetstar announced its new flights to Canberra, launch fares were available for $75 one-way, excluding baggage. That low price was only offered for one day, but fares are still on sale from $85 one-way (or $79 one-way for Club Jetstar members) as part of Jetstar’s Weekend Fare Frenzy sale which ends on Monday 14 June.
That’s a much lower price than has traditionally been offered on the Brisbane-Canberra route by incumbent airlines Qantas & Virgin Australia. Those airlines have typically offered fares starting around $200-250 one-way on this route. But since Jetstar announced it would be launching flights to Canberra, Virgin’s Canberra-Brisbane Getaway fares have dropped to around $115 one-way.
Jetstar, a low-cost carrier owned by Qantas, has never previously flown to Canberra. This has traditionally allowed Qantas and Virgin to charge higher fares in the Canberra market, as there has been little price pressure from low-cost carriers.
By putting Jetstar on the Canberra-Brisbane route, Qantas could be at risk of “cannibalising” some of its own traffic by offering its own customers a cheaper alternative. But the Qantas Group would likely argue that by offering lower fares in the Canberra market, it could stimulate new demand from passengers who wouldn’t have flown Qantas anyway. It could also attract some passengers who would previously have flown Virgin. And as Jetstar’s Canberra-Brisbane flights are running during the middle of the day, they are unlikely to attract many business travellers who would still fly Qantas or Virgin during business-friendly times.
Some AFF members have speculated that Jetstar’s entry onto this route could be a pre-emptive strike to prevent Rex coming into that market.
Rex has recently launched flights from Canberra to Sydney, and will soon begin twice-daily Canberra-Melbourne flights (although the launch of the latter route has been delayed twice due to Melbourne’s lockdown and is now scheduled to begin on 24 June 2021). On both of these routes, Rex has significantly undercut the fares Qantas and Virgin had been charging, leading Qantas and Virgin to also drop their prices substantially.
Tigerair, a low-cost airline that was owned by Virgin Australia until it was wound up in 2020, previously served the Canberra-Brisbane route for a short time.
Jetstar is now one of several airlines to enter the Canberra market over the past year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, in addition to Rex, Alliance Airlines and Link Airways have also started flying to Canberra.
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