Qantas made US$861 million in revenue last year just from flying between Sydney and Melbourne, according to OAG analysis. That’s around AU$1.27 billion at today’s exchange rate.
This ranks Qantas’ Sydney-Melbourne route as the second-highest revenue earner of any route, for any airline, anywhere in the world. The only route that earns more revenue is British Airways’ flights between London Heathrow and New York’s JFK Airport.
Here is the full list of the ten highest revenue routes by airline between April 2018 and March 2019:
- British Airways: New York (JFK) to London (LHR)
- Qantas: Melbourne (MEL) to Sydney (SYD)
- Emirates: London (LHR) to Dubai (DXB)
- Singapore Airlines: London (LHR) to Singapore (SIN)
- United Airlines: San Francisco (SFO) to Newark (EWR)
- American Airlines: Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK)
- Qatar Airways: London (LHR) to Doha (DOH)
- Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong (HKG) to London (LHR)
- Singapore Airlines: Sydney (SYD) to Singapore (SIN)
- Air Canada: Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto (YYZ)
Interestingly, Qantas’ Sydney-Melbourne service is the only airline route in the top ten to have actually increased its revenue over the previous year. All of the other top routes earned less for their respective airlines this year than last year.
For regular flyers between Melbourne and Sydney, it’s not hard to see why this route makes so much money for Qantas. Qantas has an average of 488 flights per week between Sydney and Melbourne – that’s an average of 32x daily Boeing 737 flights and 3x daily Airbus A330 flights in each direction.
Domestic airfares have also increased markedly in recent years. A standard Qantas red-e-deal ticket from Melbourne to Sydney now costs $190, and it’s rare to see one-way fares below $150. And if you want to fly from Melbourne to Sydney next Monday morning, good luck getting there for less than $321…
Meanwhile, Economy Flex fares currently start from $506 one-way and Business Class costs at least $700. It’s not hard to see why Qantas boasts a RASK (Revenue per Available Seat Kilometre) that’s among the highest in the world for its domestic operations.
The Melbourne-Sydney route also happens to be the world’s second-busiest air route by number of flights, behind Seoul to Jeju.
The OAG data does not take into account each airline’s costs, and therefore is not necessarily an accurate measure of profitability. But as a matter of interest, we estimated that the airline operating cost incurred by Qantas for its Sydney-Melbourne flights is approximately US$212 million (~AU$312 million) per year. That doesn’t account for the airline’s indirect overhead costs, but still leaves a healthy profit margin.
By comparison, British Airways earns US$1.159 billion (~AU$1.7 billion) per year in revenue for its London-New York flights. We estimated that it costs British Airways approximately US$232 million (~AU$342 million) per year to operate these flights. This is based on a calculation of 98 flights per week on a mix of Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s with 299 seats.
Singapore Airlines’ Sydney-Singapore route was also in the top ten. This route earns the airline US$550 million (~AU$811 million) in revenue each year. Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to Sydney five times per day using a combination of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF MEL-SYD – Second highest global revenue route (Forbes)