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Domestic Flights

Australia has a number of airlines operating in the domestic market but only three of these have a network that goes across the entire country. Let's take a closer look at the contenders and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the airlines.

Qantas

Qantas is not only the oldest and largest of the Australian airlines, it also has the largest domestic network and is the only one that is a member of one of the large international airline alliances.

No other airline will take you to a greater number of destinations in Australia and if you book domestic flights together with your international flights to and from Australia you often get them very cheap.

 

Qantas Boeing 767-300ERQantas Boeing 767-300ERMany of the planes Qantas operates in the domestic market are unfortunately slightly older and do not have the same modern appeal that for example Jetstar planes have. But this is more than balanced by excellent service and helpful staff.

In addition, being part of the OneWorld Alliance, the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program is recognised by other member airlines and you can collect points towards your OneWorld Frequent Flyer account you might have with any of the other member airlines (e. g. American Airlines or British Airways) and of course book reward flights with OneWorld points.

Jetstar

Jetstar A321Jetstar Airbus A321Introduced in 2004, Jetstar is the low cost brand from Qantas and has a very modern fleet of Airbus A320, A321 and A330. It operates only within Australia (including Tasmania) and leaves the international business to the parent company.

Compared to Qantas, the service onboard is minimal and should be prepared to pay extra for beverages or baggage.

The positive side - apart from the new fleet - is that you don't need to bother with booking through the Jetstar website as the Qantas website will list both Qantas and Jetstar flights, you will simply see a "operated by Jetstar". And you will be able to collect Qantas Frequent Flyer points for your flights on Jetstar.

Virgin Australia

In 2000 a new regional carrier was launched in the Australian market that was originally named VirginBlue. This launch was quite successful and VirginBlue has grown significantly, probably benefiting from the breakdown of Ansett Airlines which left a vacuum in the domestic Australian market that Qantas was not able to fill quickly enough.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800Renamed to Virgin Autralia in 2008, the airline is operating as a typical low cost carrier within Australia and as such is a direct competitor for Jetstar. You will be charged extra for pretty much everything as is typical for low cost carriers, but the network is pretty good these days, covering most destinations in Australia.

Virgin Australia has recently positioned itself more internationally and has formed partnerships with Delta Air Lines (USA), Etihad Airways (United Arab Emirates), Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic (Great Britain) and Virgin America (USA).

While accumulated points are not recognised by any of the global airline alliances, Virgin Australia nevertheless has its own Velocity Rewards frequent flyer program.

Tiger Airways

Tiger Airways A320Tiger Airways Australia Airbus A320This is a low cost carrier that originated in Singapore and serviced locations in south-east Asia. The Australian subsidiary is based in Melbourne and has a small network servicing some of the larger cities or regional hubs in Australia.

The fleet consists entirely of Airbus A320. In 2011 the Australian authorities have suspended Tiger Airways Australia's operations following non-compliance with safety regulations. These restrictions were lifted after 5 weeks, allowing 18 flights per week between Sydney and Melbourne only. In November 2012 a new safety certificate was given to the airline and all restrictions have been lifted.

Skywest Airlines

Skywest Airlines Fokker 100Skywest Airlines Fokker 100A regional carrier from Western Australia that operates mainly out of Perth. Apart from destinations in rural Western Australia it offers flights to Melbourne, Darwin and - as only international destination - Denpasar in Bali.

Skywest has a cooperation with Virgin Australia and also uses their Velocity Rewards frequent flyer program. In this cooperation is operates a number of ATR 72 turboprop planes while the remaining fleet consists - apart from one Airbus A320 of Fokker 50 and 100 planes.

Regional Express (REX)

REX Saab 340ARegional Express (Rex) Saab 340AAs the name suggests, this airline connects mainly regional destinations in New South Wales and South Australia to major hubs like Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. It also has a connection to Burnie (Tasmania) and operates a second network in northern Queensland with Townsville as hub that has no connection to the primary network.

Airnorth

Airnorth Fairchild Metro 23Airnorth Fairchild Metro 23This is a Darwin based regional airline that services destinations in the far north of Australia. The network extends mainly along the coast with a few inland destinations like McArthur River and Mt Isa. It reaches from Karratha in the west (west of Port Headland in Western Australia) to Townsville and the Gold Coast in Queensland in the east. The only international destination is Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste.

Brindabella Airlines

This is a small regional carrier that operates out of Canberra and services destinations in regional New South Wales and also has a connection to Brisbane. It is affiliated with Qantas and you can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer miles on these connections.

Cobham

Cobham operates a number of jets for QantasLink but as these carry the Qantas logo, they are not recognisable as Cobham planes. The only route that can be booked directly with Cobham is between Perth and Kambalda (about 60 km south of Kalgoorlie).

Aeropelican

Aeropelican is a small regional carrier that services 5 destinations inland destinations in eastern New South Wales and Queensland with Brisbane as northern and Sydney as southern end of the network.

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