In a massive boost for the Australia-US market, American Airlines is set to begin a daily non-stop service between Sydney and Los Angeles, while Qantas returns to running B747s from Sydney to San Francisco, both in time for Christmas.
American will use B777-300ERs non-stop Sydney/LAX, while Qantas will fly to SFO five or six times weekly using the B747-400 aircraft that currently augment its A380 services to Los Angeles.
The developments herald a new, closer relationship between partners Qantas and American Airlines. As part of the deal, their four-year-old joint venture will notch up into full route revenue-share status. Regulatory approval is required for that.
The deal will inject new life into the Australia-North America market and may see it rebound to challenge the Australia-Europe market.
Qantas, Sydney Airport and Tourism Australia are jubilant.
“The enhanced Qantas-American Airlines partnership is good news for tourism, business and trade, as it will increase the airlines’ Sydney-US capacity by 33% or an extra 301,000 seats a year,” Sydney Airport managing director and chief executive Kerrie Mather said.
For Qantas, the Sydney-San Francisco route is currently the most popular onward destination for corporate customers that it doesn’t already serve directly on its own network. It will re-start the route from 20 December 2015, initially five times a week then six, using its newer Boeing 747-400 aircraft with the same style interiors found on the airline’s A380s.
Nine years have passed since the inaugural Qantas flight to San Francisco, back in 2006. The then Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, accompanied by Qantas’ “Ambassador at Large” John Travolta (wearing his Qantas pilot’s uniform) welcomed the flight at SFO.
Qantas used that occasion back in 2006 to publicise its decision to buy 65 B787 Dreamliners for more than USD 10 billion, with rights to buy many more. A giant cheque was presented to Boeing and photos were taken. In the years since, the B787s have been slow to arrive. Qantas axed its non-stop service to San Francisco in May 2011 so it could switch the B747-400 capacity to its Dallas-Fort Worth route.
Back to the present, American Airlines’ will operate its trans-Pacific flights with its new B777-300ER featuring lie-flat seats in First and Business.
Qantas will retain its daily A380 Sydney to Los Angeles and Melbourne to Los Angeles services, as well as its B747 Brisbane-Los Angeles flights, and the airlines will codeshare on each other’s services.
The enhanced relationship also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand, Qantas stated.
Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce, said the expanded relationship was good news for travellers, the local tourism industry and the corporate market.
“Together with American, we can offer direct flights and unrivalled frequencies from Australia to Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth, seasonal services to Vancouver and one stop services to JFK via LAX. We also offer coordinated schedules that allow seamless travel within the United States and Australia.”
Under the expanded Qantas-American Airlines arrangement travellers will be able to (subject to regulatory approval):
- Access 45 services per week (combined) across the Pacific to mainland North America; this includes an increase in services from Sydney to Los Angeles from 14 to 17 per week.
- Access more than 150 destinations throughout North America on American Airline’s extensive network from Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco including more than 50 destinations from Los Angeles.
- From Sydney access more than 60 Qantas Group destinations across Australia and New Zealand. The enhanced joint business partnership also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand.
- Fly American Airlines’ new flagship B777-300ER on the Sydney-Los Angeles route; featuring a three-class cabin configuration with fully lie-flat seats in First and Business Class, international Wi-Fi, and more customer and cargo capacity than any other aircraft currently in American’s fleet. Qantas will codeshare on these services.
- Fly Qantas’ reconfigured B747-400 six times per week on the Sydney-San Francisco route; featuring the same product found on the airline’s A380s, including Marc Newson’s fully-flat Skybed in Business, award winning Economy cabin and large -seat-back screens in each cabin with over 1500 entertainment options. American Airlines will codeshare on these services.
- Benefit from the 9% net increase in capacity on the Australian- mainland US routes and 6% net increase on the Sydney- Los Angeles market.
Written by Peter Needham