Perusing the QF on-line schedules, I came upon some interesting changes to the Japan route commencing the end of March 2002 - changes which, to date, I had heard nothing about:
CNS-NRT: will change from 7x742 to 1x743 & 12x763.
On the six days when there's two flights, they will leave within 15 minutes of each other in both directions, with most of the additional flights starting from and ending at SYD.
CNS-KIX: will change from 7x763 to 2x743 (commencing from SYD) and 5x743 going via NGO (a 50 min. hop from NGO-KIX & vv)!
CNS-NGO: will change from 4x742 to 7X743 (with 5 continuing onto KIX (3x743 - SYD/NGO will be discontinued).
I haven't worked it out but, capacity wise, the changes, at first glance, do not appear to be significant.
The interesting points are:
* the increased flights to NRT - something which QF had wanted to do earlier by having its KIX allocation altered to Japan wide, ie to NRT, but which the regulating authority had disallowed as it was holding the extra NRT slots for AN (as a result, QF had to fly to KIX on a daily basis so as not to lose that allocation).
* the additional emphasis on CNS as the Japan hub (probably in anticipation of Australian starting flights to other Japanese ports (SPX, FUK) later on in the year.
* (the most interesting) maintaining the frequency to KIX by routing most of the flights through NGO. I am not aware of any other foreign airline which is utilising a domestic hop in Japan. And it is doing so with a 743! (I'm not sure how that is going to work out)
Perhaps the main question that arises is the point of all this: given that the overall capacity to NRT does not appear to change appreciably, is it simply a ploy to gain additional landing slots in order to stymie any potential future bid by ANII (or ANII/SQ) to enter the route as it originally planned to do once additional slots at NRT became available?