The West

Perth is spoilt for travel choice
Partnership: Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce (L) and Emirates President Tim Clark. Picture: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Travellers are spoilt for choice with a virtual "A-list" of airlines serving Perth and offering a multitude of connections to the world.

With the rapid expansion of Emirates and the recent addition of Qatar Airways, almost every major destination is either non-stop or one-stop from Perth.

And the time taken to reach each destination has come down, helped in many cases by a number of airlines offering three and, from November, four services a day to Perth.

But what is the shortest flight time between Perth and some of the world's top cities? Often it isn't the route you would think.

For instance, Perth to New York for many has been a flight with Qantas via Sydney and Los Angeles - but now with Cathay Pacific's new three-times weekly morning service from Perth you can slash four hours 45 minutes off the journey and have only one stop.

And Qantas's new alliance partner Emirates - subject to regulatory approvals - also has a fast one-stop flight through Dubai.

While it is 700km further through Dubai, having only one stop cuts out three hours off the journey compared with Qantas.

Qantas does have another newer option with its flight via Sydney and Dallas connecting with American Airlines which is 45 minutes faster than Emirates but requires two stops and a change of airline to a US domestic carrier.

Another great option if you're travelling premium is the Singapore Airlines business class only, non-stop flight to New York but it has a 4 1/2 hour layover in Singapore.

Airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways are honing their transit systems to cut the connect times down to just 45 minutes in some cases.

However this requires a state-of- the-art terminal complex.

The fastest connections are found with airlines which offer the highest number of daily services, meaning Singapore Airlines, Emirates/Qantas and Cathay Pacific for international flights and Qantas for domestic flights to other States.

And with those additional daily services come more convenient times because the fastest connect is also what suits passengers.

When Emirates introduced its second daily service at 6am, it took time to catch on but is now extremely popular as travellers realise it gets them into Europe in the evening and straight into a hotel for bed.

Interestingly, its third daily service which launches in December is at the more traditional time for Perth travellers of 3.30pm.

The dominant airline into South- East Asia is Singapore Airlines which will operate four daily flights from November 1 leaving Perth at 2.05am, 7.35am, 3.30pm and 5.30pm.

However, China and north Asia is the domain of Cathay Pacific and its partner DragonAir with 18 destinations.

Cathay offers 10 flights a week from Perth and is likely to move to double daily next year say insiders.

After Qantas dropped its non-stop flight to Japan, Singapore Airlines and Cathay have filled the void. Cathay serves five cities in Japan - Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita), Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo.

The 7.05am flight from Perth via Hong Kong will have you leaving the plane at Haneda at 9.35pm, while the overnight flight which leaves Perth at 11.55pm arrives at Haneda at 1.55pm the next day.

And if you're going to the ski fields of Sapporo, the overnight flight will have you knee deep in snow by 2.50pm after a 90-minute connect in Hong Kong.

Far from the ski fields, Kuala Lumpur has developed as a major hub for the price sensitive travellers with AirAsia opening travel to a host of new destinations in South-East Asia.

The airline boasts that 50 of its 142 routes are unique to AirAsia.

The growth of Emirates and Qatar Airways has opened up many non-stop travel options not only to Europe but also Africa and the Middle East.

Fascinating destinations such as Casablanca, Tunis, Khartoum and Dar Es Salaam are now hours closer to Perth. And the resources industry is now using the Dubai connection to reach deeper into Africa to Lagos, Accra, and Luanda.

However, the fastest connect is not always the best option when it comes to Africa which in recent years has consistently had the world's worst accident record.

Many now opt for an "A" list carrier with a seamless product and fly further.

There are also airlines that keep a lower profile that are worth a look - in case their schedule meets yours.

For instance Air Mauritius is currently charging just over $5000 for a return business class fare to Paris in late October.

However the airline only operates twice a week from Perth - Wednesday and Sunday.

The West Australian

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