American Is About To Announce Service To Australia!

For the past couple of days there have been rumors of a big announcement coming from American today. Apparently the announcement was supposed to be centered around a new route, and in particular growth out of LAX over the Pacific.

Well, American dropped a pretty big hint about the new route on Twitter this morning:

Presumably:

  • American is announcing service to Australia
  • It’s part of their joint venture with Qantas (hence the “GreatMates” hashtag)
  • It’s out of LAX, given that the press conference is being held there, and that’s what all the buzz has been about

What we don’t know, however, is:

What plane will American fly to Australia?

Presumably American could use a Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300, or Boeing 787. Keep in mind this will be part of a joint venture, which means there’s revenue sharing with Qantas on a per seat basis. As a result, if they operate a smaller plane they’ll get a smaller share of the revenue, while if they operate a bigger plane they’ll get a bigger share of the revenue.

American-777

On one hand you’d think they’d operate a Boeing 777-300ER, which is sort of the flagship aircraft of their fleet. On the other hand, they only have a few of these left on order, so I don’t necessarily think that’s a given.

Depending on the specific route, I could see American operating a 787, or perhaps even a 777-200, given that those are being refurbished and having a lot of additional seats added.

Keep in mind that both Delta and United fly 777-200s between Los Angeles and Sydney, as the route does have quite a bit of capacity nowadays.

Where in Australia will American fly to?

Now, when I first heard rumors of new transpacific flying for American, my first thought was that they’d announce flights to Auckland, New Zealand. Qantas cut the route a long time ago, and Air New Zealand more or less has a monopoly on it. And as part of a joint venture with Qantas, it seems like it could do well.

Auckland-1

But it seems like that’s not happening, based on the kangaroo picture.

The obvious choice would be Sydney. After all, if you’re going to fly to just one place in Australia, Sydney seems like a logical choice. But it could also be Melbourne or Brisbane, I suppose.

Possible-AA-Routes

Bottom line

Regardless of which city in Australia American chooses to fly to, I’m really excited about this. While there are alliances and joint ventures, very rarely is there true “metal neutrality.” In other words, as an American flyer I’d still rather take American over Qantas, given that I can use my systemwide upgrades on those flights.

Qantas-First-Lounge-Sydney-60

It’s great to see American truly transform into a global airline beyond Latin America. Last year they added service to Hong Kong. If they add service to Sydney now, they’ll fly to all my favorite major cities in the world.

Which route do you think American is going to announce, and which aircraft will they use?

You only have a few hours to put in your guess before the big announcement!

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. I wonder: Is this related to the recent major change to the AA/QF reciprocal lounge access agreement? As of last month, AA members only get access when flying on AA coded flights, not QF.

  2. Probably the daily Qantas 747 service out of Sydney will be taken over by the American 77W. The LA-Sydney route is quickly becoming the LA-London of the pacific with major JVs flying at least 1 flight

  3. Ben!

    I have 255,000 AA miles burning a hole in my pocket. How hard will 2 biz class seats be to book with points?

  4. @John: If the rest of the Biz Class availability to Australia is any indication, 2 biz class seats will be really hard. Hopefully AA’s involvement opens more seats. Especially if Virgin Australia dries up.

    As to my prediction, I’ll go outside the box a bit and say Brisbane on a 787. Just to be different.

  5. Sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice. Gotta be SYD. Although it’s not in my top 100 cities list, it’s popular for certain.

    I’d say 773, but don’t know the layout; if it’s 3 class I doubt they fly it and go 772 instead.

  6. Yeah I’d say it’s Brisbane, which is not great. On one hand you get the chance to use SWU, on the other hand the QF international First lounge at BNE is rubbish (compared to SYD and MEL).

    But I wonder if any aircraft is able to make it to PER? There is certainly potential there.

  7. OMG! Just another thought! Terminal 4 Flagship lounge vs. Qantas First at TBIT!
    As codeshare… That could work both ways… i.e. Rusted on Qantas fans would balk preferring QF metal leaving from TBIT resulting in lower demand and better chances of upgrades clearings on the AA service.

  8. SWUs aside, if we do a side-by-side comparison of hard and soft product in all classes (assuming AA uses a 3-class configuration on the route), this seems like a losing prospect for Qantas…and for those of use that don’t have SWUs for AA’s crappy F product. In my experience, even AA’s new 773s with the new product are only improvements on their horrific old product, but certainly not world class. My only hope is that, as Cory mentioned above, opens up more award seats across the JV so that I can actually fly Qantas with my oodles of AAdvantage miles.

  9. @ Adam — Certainly agree the soft product sucks, though in business class I think American might just be my first choice of all the airlines operating in the market. They have the best hard product plus wifi, which I value immensely on longhaul flights.

  10. @TheRealBabushka
    The 777-200LR, the 787-900, the A380, and the A340-500 can fly LAX-PER non-stop, I may be missing a few bit not the 777-300ER, the A330 (any variant) or the 747-8 can operate the route non-stop. American does not operate any of these except the 787-900 which they are set to receive later this year.

  11. @ Flo — I believe they flew there in the 90s from Hawaii, though that’s about it, as far as I know.

  12. I’m excited, my home base is Philadelphia and I flew with Qantas last year to Sydney, I would have rather stuck with American since I have elite status with them. This is great news, very excited.

  13. @ Navin — Yeah, we’re definitely not seeing much growth out of Chicago, though I don’t think that’s really surprising. American and United both have a large presence there, and it’s not the most convenient connecting point from many parts of the country. So I just don’t think they see the unique selling point of Chicago, aside from the local traffic.

  14. @ TheRealBabushka — Hah, in theory possible, though keep in mind that eventually American plans to operate out of TBIT as well, though we’ll see when that actually happens. And for that matter, I doubt most travelers are that savvy as to choose flights based on the lounge.

  15. @ Mark — It has eight first class seats, and long term will be the only plane in the fleet with international first class. Out of curiosity, why do you think it’s unlikely they’ll offer a first class product there?

  16. @ John — It’s anyone’s guess. Sporadically American is sometimes good about opening space on new routes, but long term they release very little saver space on their own metal, so I wouldn’t count on much space, unfortunately.

  17. @ Mike — I doubt it. I’d say that’s a pretty small change in the grand scheme of things.

  18. AA biz class awards to Europe are just about impossible to find, cant imagine how difficult Australia will be

  19. Daily service to Sydney on a 77W seems the most likely, maybe a daily service to Melbourne as well with the 787 would be very nice!

  20. The best product in the market will be Virgin Australia’s refurbished 77Ws with very sharp black and chrome-trimmed BE Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone business class seats plus stand up bar.

  21. It would make my year if it was a direct flight to AKL! I don’t think that is where they are going, but it should would make this lady extremely happy. 🙂

  22. That sounds good!

    Lucky, I follow your blog religiously and as a very new but a hardcore aviation geek, I would love a piece from you on how joint ventures and code shares work really, as I don’t understand it much. Here you said “Keep in mind this will be part of a joint venture, which means there’s revenue sharing with Qantas on a per seat basis.” Well I kinda understand it, but not entirely.

  23. While we’re throwing in guesses, I’ll say 3x weekly lax-Mel and 4x lax-syd on the 787.

  24. I wouldn’t be surprise if it is flying out from LAX. Think about it, there isn’t that much of trade between Australia and US. Most of people living in states hardly heard any Australia brand. Most of us learnt Australia from hot aussies, where most of them are having acting career in LA.

  25. Loving this prospect! Here’s hoping they reintroduce del, and/or start service to bom, all & and jnb.

  26. Woohoo, three-class 77W service LAX to SYD on American and 747 service SFO to SYD on Qantas!! As a West Coast kid who’s always wanted to visit Australia, I’m stoked about the expanded service–Lucky, do you think this will result in increased premium cabin award availability across the Pacific on either airline? Or will it remain challenging to find award seats on non-stop flights West Coast to Australia with oneworld?

  27. LAX to SYD starts December 17, subject to regulatory approvals. Operated with 777-300 3 class. Qantas to also start SYD to SFO in December.

  28. Not sure how the math in this post works. Why would AA get less percentage of revenue of they operate an aircraft with fewer seats? I think what you meant is that the revenue percentage is the same regardless of aircraft, but total revenue would be less with the 787 b/c there are less seats to sell.

  29. This is wonderful news! We definitely need more trans-pacific options in Australia.
    I wonder if this is related to Qantas now resuming flights to San Francisco? (whereas in the last 2-3 years the LAX-SFO leg has always been operated by AA, giving United the monopoly on SYD-SFO)
    Nevertheless both are good news! 🙂

  30. @ Jean — Yep, seems Qantas is basically switching one of their SYD-LAX flights to SFO, and then American is taking over that frequency.

  31. @ Josh — Sorry for any confusion. By “percentage of revenue” I meant percentage of the overall revenue. In other words, if you offer 40% of the seats in the market, you get 40% of the revenue. If you operate 30% of the seats in the market, you get 30% of the revenue.

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