The Kangaroo Route sees 2.2 million passengers

Following IATA Slots in Australia, it’s a good time to look at the Kangaroo Route.  About 5.7 million people travelled between Europe and Australia in the past 12 months.  Not surprisingly, the UK was by far the highest with 38% – or 2.2 million.  Interestingly, more people had a point of sale in Australia (1.2 million) than those in the UK (861,000).

Kangaroo Route has 2.2 million passengers

Source: OAG Traffic Analyser.

The Kangaroo Route was up 450,000 passengers versus five years’ ago.  This was especially from the strong growth of Qatar Airways, whose traffic volume by 162%, from around 87,000 to 227,000. As a result, Qatar Airways alone was responsible for nearly 32% of these extra 450,000.  This was from a second-daily to Sydney (continuing to/from Canberra due to bilateral restrictions) and a daily to Adelaide.

Kangaroo Route top-10 airlines

Source: OAG Traffic Analyser.

The top-10 airlines were responsible for about 80% of all UK – Australia passengers, with Emirates the clear leader. And Dubai is, therefore, the number-one connecting location.  Emirates serves five Australian cities and has an average of 10 daily flights to Australia in the week of 19th November, with around six by the A380.  Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, wins by frequency, at almost twice Emirates’ daily figure. When SilkAir is included, adding daily services to both Cairns and Darwin, eight Australian cities are served with 22 daily flights, growing to nine cities with SilkAir’s time-limited Broome service.

Royal Brunei is a key operator to Melbourne

Royal Brunei added about 8% of the additional 450,000 – less than primary operators Singapore Airlines (10%) and Emirates (11%).  However, Royal Brunei did grow 30% in these five years, albeit from a low base.  It eliminated its Dubai stop from London, enabling a quicker and more competitive offering.  It only serves Melbourne and Brisbane, the latter by A320neos, but it is now highly coordinated for connections, with around 1 ½ hours in Bandar en route to Australia.  Royal Brunei is now a leading airline between London and Melbourne, with PDEW of almost 100.

Royal Brunei London to Australia

Royal Brunei is now highly coordinated between London and Australia, as shown here. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Kangaroo Route hindered by Etihad Airways and Malaysia Airlines

Passenger development was flat in the past year, with Royal Brunei’s increase not offsetting declines elsewhere, including that of Etihad Airways. Indeed, while the MEB3 collectively were responsible for almost half of the 450,000 extra passengers, Etihad’s own passenger volume decreased by 75,000 YOY.  This was from the end of Perth and cuts to Sydney and Melbourne. Five years’ ago, deeply troubled Malaysia Airlines was the fourth-largest carrier between the UK and Australia. It is now the ninth, but presumably from a stronger base.  It ended Brisbane and significantly reduced capacity to Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Kangaroo Route’s top-10

The top-10 airport-pairs account for three-quarters of all passengers from the UK to Australia, increasing to 82% at city-pair level. 

Airport-pair level Passengers City-pair level Passengers
London Heathrow – Sydney 482,095 London – Sydney 549,166
London Heathrow – Melbourne 370,925 London – Melbourne 412,094
Brisbane – London Heathrow 217,967 Brisbane – London 264,152
London Heathrow – Perth 202,874 London – Perth 240,019
Manchester – Sydney 77,692 Manchester – Sydney 77,692
London Gatwick – Sydney 63,189 Adelaide – London 76,209
Adelaide – London Heathrow 59,653 Manchester – Perth 56,196
Manchester – Perth 56,196 Manchester – Melbourne 51,636
Manchester – Melbourne 51,636 Brisbane – Manchester 51,199
Brisbane – Manchester 51,199 Canberra – London 23,692
Source: OAG Traffic Analyser. Numbers exclude leakage to other airports, which could be significant for some UK airports.

From the UK collectively, the top-five Australian cities were Sydney (698,000), Melbourne (522,000), Perth (364,500), Brisbane (361,000) and Adelaide (109,000).  London Heathrow was by far the number-one airport (1,425,300) followed by Manchester (266,200), London Gatwick (194,200), Edinburgh (74,900), Birmingham (71,000) and Glasgow (57,600).  Of course, there is undoubtedly significant leakage from certain airports, especially Birmingham and Bristol, that distort the figures.

On the 14th November, Qantas operated a test flight between London Heathrow and Sydney as part of its Project Sunrise.  It took 19 hours and 19 minutes.  At the time of writing, there are numerous issues that have to be overcome.  Following its non-stop Perth – London service, do you think Qantas will announce a non-stop scheduled service to Sydney in the next couple of years?  Vote now.


  1. Accessor says:

    Interesting and surprising that the Chinese carriers do not feature as significant players on the Australia – Europe Kangaroo route. With the growth in capacity by China Southern in particular, but also the other PRC airlines, to the Australian market together with aggressive ticket pricing, these airlines would be expected to appear in the top-10 participants. Where do they fall in the rankings?

    • James Pearson says:

      Hi there. It is quite surprising, although the balance between ticket price and perceived quality is an interesting one. I have double-checked for you. For the same period at country-level, China Southern is the first, ranking 11th, Air China is #14 and China Eastern #15. Taiwan’s China Airlines is #12.

  2. David says:

    ANA flights and cathay pacific make good connections to london heathrow. Large business class tske this route.
    How come tbey are not on the list.
    Same goes garuda airlines….

    Also turkish is interested in direct flight to sydney.
    They have ordered 787 flights
    Any news when they will start this route??


  3. john doutch says:

    Interesting QF figures. Av 333 per day in total, 2 flights, one from PER and one from SYD. PER is direct to LON with a reported load factor of 93%, and the A380 from SYD, what is it’s current load factor av? I suspect it is av less than 200 pax per day based on the figures quoted.

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