New routes to Southeast Asia for business travellers in 2020

Say 'sayonara' to long travel times, because big changes are ahead for business travellers heading to Asia in 2020 and beyond.

A number of airlines are making route changes or swapping aircraft on routes to various Southeast Asia destinations, which will mean spending less time in the air, more premium cabin seating options and, in some cases, less time on your commute either to or from the airport.

For those who regularly go through the rigmarole of fly-in-fly-out meetings, prepare to get a little more of your life back.

West coast express

Perth travellers flying to the Philippines will soon enjoy a new non-stop service to Manila, when Philippine Airlines launches its non-stop service in March 2020. This service is in addition to the airline's other non-stop services to Manila, which fly from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

This is the second time the airline has attempted a Perth to Manila service, after an aborted first try in 2013, with the new route serviced by the airline's new Airbus A321neo fleet; offering twelve flatbed Business Class seats in a 2-2 layout. This is the same aircraft used by Cathay Dragon for its short-haul routes, albeit with a slightly different configuration.

With Manila being a major connecting hub to other parts of Asia, the opening of this new route for the west coast may be just what the CEO ordered.

Big in Japan

Dust off your Lonely Planet guide, because starting 29 March 2020, Qantas will shift the company's Melbourne to Tokyo service destination from Narita airport to Haneda airport, non-stop.

This minor course change also comes with a change of aircraft to the company's Airbus A380 fleet, which allows the company to offer more premium cabin seating; adding 14 First Class seats and between 64 to 70 Business Class seats, depending on final configuration.

The new destination will shave roughly an hour off travellers' commute time on the Tokyo side. Travellers can also look forward to saving twenty minutes on flight time. All up, that business trip to Tokyo will soon take around an hour and twenty minutes less – that's time you can now spend getting to know your Kanji from your Katakana.

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 "The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with more than 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone," said Tina Le Spiro, Qantas International CEO.

"In the past two years, we've expanded our network by adding three new routes to Japan to meet this growing demand: a year-round service to Osaka, a seasonal service to Sapporo, and now a new service between Melbourne and Haneda."

Next stop: Seoul

Across the ditch, Air New Zealand recently began (23 November) a new route from Auckland direct to Seoul, with three services operated per week, increasing to five flights per week during peak season.

Serviced by the company's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet, each aircraft features 18 flatbed Business Class seats in a 1-1-1 layout, which is pretty much the dream when it comes to privacy and uninterrupted work time.

These aircraft form part of Air New Zealand's Pacific Rim strategy, offering a more spacious and fuel-efficient service than other aircraft models operating busy routes to Southeast Asia.

From 2022, Air New Zealand is also slated to begin updating this and other routes throughout the region with Boeing's new 787-10 Dreamliner – the first three due for delivery are currently being built - which feature fifteen per cent more cabin space, promising a very comfortable ride.

In further good news, the airline's 787-9 Dreamliner fleet will also receive a new fit-out in early 2020, including new seats for the pointy end. The current Business Premier flatbed seat was remodelled in 2011 and is now showing its age compared to the cutting-edge premium cabin seats and services offered by other carriers in the market.

These changes look set to make travel easier to Southeast Asia through 2020 and beyond, making it an ideal time to plan market growth at the same time as you learn a little Ikebana.

On any given day, you'll find Mark Gambino exploring the worlds of luxury travel, technology and alcohol; putting his spin on the experiences that define life's most memorable moments. He finds no greater pleasure than being behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle or sequestered in a basement bar to indulge a bibulous vice.

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