American Launching Los Angeles To Sydney Flights December 17, 2015

Earlier today I wrote about how American hinted at them announcing new service to Australia later today. Well, the CEOs of American and Qantas had a press conference at the IATA Annual General Meeting today for the announcement, and there’s some exciting news:

  • American will launch 777-300ER flights between Los Angeles and Sydney as of December 17, 2015
  • Qantas will launch 747-400 flights between San Francisco and Sydney as of December 20, 2015

AA-QF

American launching Los Angeles to Sydney flight

American and Qantas already have a joint venture, though as it stands American doesn’t actually operate any flights to Australia or New Zealand. This new American flight will complement Qantas’ existing flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Since American and Qantas have a joint venture, they’ll be splitting revenue on a per seat basis on these routes.

It’s exciting that American will fly their flagship 777-300ER on the route.

American-777

American’s 777-300ER features eight first class seats.

American-777-First-Class-01

Then there are 52 reverse herringbone business class seats.

American-777-300-1

Then there’s Main Cabin Extra, featuring nine seats per row and extra legroom.

American-Main-Cabin-Extra

And then the economy cabin features 10 across seating.

American-Economy

While American’s soft product might not be amazing, I love reverse herringbone seats, and American has wifi on their 777-300ERs. I know that’s something others might not value so much, but personally wifi is one of the most important features for me on longhaul flights, so American would probably be my preferred airline between the US and Australia.

American-777-First-Class-27

And that’s not even factoring in that I can use systemwide upgrades on American. 😉

Of course I’m also excited about the fact that oneworld Emerald members and first class passengers can use the excellent Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney.

Qantas-First-Lounge-Sydney-19

Qantas launching San Francisco to Sydney flight

Qantas discontinued service to San Francisco in 2011, given oil prices and their terrible financial situation at the time.

This is a market they’ll be entering once again, which they plan to operate 6x weekly using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, featuring business class, premium economy, and economy.

Qantas-747-Business-Class-01

Qantas-747-Business-Class-03

A New Zealand route announcement on the way?

During the press conference, Doug Parker specifically talked about his desire to start service to New Zealand. As he explained it, “New Zealand is a market neither of us serve, but this provides that opportunity. We can’t ignore New Zealand.”

So while it’s not official yet, I’d assume the route is in the works, and based on this strengthened joint venture with Qantas, I suspect the new flight will be out of Los Angeles as well, when it happens.

Will this lead to more award space?

Almost certainly not. Qantas is one of the stingiest airlines out there when it comes to releasing longhaul premium cabin award seats, and American is basically the same, at least for longhaul flights at the saver level.

There might be a bunch of award seats at first, as we’ve sometimes seen in the past when new routes are announced. But long term I highly doubt we’ll see much award space in premium cabins on this route.

Bottom line

This is very exciting news. I can’t wait to fly American to Sydney, given that they have onboard wifi, and that I prefer to fly American metal as an Executive Platinum member, given that I can upgrade.

The flight times for the new flights haven’t yet been released, and they’re not yet on sale, though I’ll be sure to post again when they are.

What do you make of this strengthened partnership between American and Qantas, and the two new routes?

Comments

  1. Per @airlineroute, QF will resume service to SFO on 20 December, up to six times per week.

  2. Hi Lucky,

    I’ve also have my eyes on this news. A couple of questions:

    1) Are they really strengthening the relationship or it’s more QF pulling the profit into their own pocket? Could you explain the nuance of ‘shifting to a Route revenue share’ as opposed to existing model?
    “As part of the changes, the four year old Qantas and American Airlines joint venture will shift to a Route revenue share agreement.”

    2) I also find in the PR release that QF is keeping the 3 weekly 747 service SYD-LAX. How does the overall supply across cabin on SYD-LAX market look like?
    “http://qmr.prescms.com/_qube/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Route.pdf”

    3) The most important question…I’d assume clearing eVIPs fairly easy at the beginning since most prem pax would stick to QF while later it’d be harder to clear the ups?

    Thanks,
    Terence

  3. Isn’t QF dropping one of their flights to LAX (and AA is essentially picking that one up) and they’re moving it to the new SFO flight?

  4. What does Doug Parker mean when he says “New Zealand is a market neither of us serve”, who is the other party other than American airlines because Qantas flies to New Zealand?

  5. @Terence It should be easy to clear SWU on Australia routes. It is not HKG route, where there are so many rich leisure travelers and business connections. Australia – US routes, however, probably will have way less less less business passengers, given the population of Australia and weak economy tie between states and Australia. For those super starts and executives, they probably will chose first classes. So my guess is shouldn’t be hard to clear SWU on this route if you are traveling on economy class.

  6. “Qantas is one of the stingiest airlines out there when it comes to releasing longhaul premium cabin award seats”

    this is true. they save those seats for friends and family. loyal travelers can’t book F awards but the baggage handler’s cousin’s dog walker will surely be in F.

  7. Excited to have more chances to cash in on Australia trips from my hometown. Hope they have good business class availability. Went to Sydney earlier this year and it blows away any other destination I’ve been to.

  8. Lucky,

    As someone who lives in the Bay Area, the Qantas news is great to hear. That said, what do you think is the better choice: using American miles for Qantas business class from SFO (if I can find space) or Delta miles on Virgin Australia via LAX?

    Thanks, Matt

  9. “Will this lead to more award space?”
    I think it will, as with Virgin Australia, United, Delta, Qantas and now American operating LAX-SYD some with more then 1x daily frequencies and high capacity aircraft there is too much capacity on this route. It is a very popular route and a high demand route but in end of the day there can only be so much demand. If airplanes do not fill up they will be forced to open up award space to fill seats. Just my guess.

  10. Well, this could be fun. I already have a biz class ticket LAX-MEL-SYD on December 17. If they open any award space for the inaugural, that would be a great swap! I’ll be keeping my eyes on this for sure..
    Thanks Ben!

  11. Do you think the New Zealand service would be to Los Angeles, or to Dallas to take advantage of American’s superior hub there?

  12. “Will this lead to more award space?

    Almost certainly not.”

    I’m not sure how adding 6x roundtrips per week from the west coast to SYD doesn’t qualify as “more” award space. It’s not a lot, but it’s adding 312 extra J seats each way (thanks to the addition of a flight). Assuming they still only release 2x J awards per flight, that’s still an increase of 24 award seats per week on from the west coast to SYD… Isn’t that effectively increasing awards by 1/3? Relatively speaking, that’s quite an increase.

  13. subscribing in the hopes someone updates when award space is released.

    need to book some friends to come to our wedding in sydney next year!

    cheers

  14. When do you think they’ll load these flights on the system? I can’t wait to use my AA miles on these flights.

  15. @Fasl – We would disagree. In particular, what do you mean ‘weak economy tie between states and Australia’? The simple fact is that every day there are large volumes of business travel between the two countries. There are also many wealthy people flying for leisure.

  16. Overall great news, love that QF is slowly adding new destinations now that they are making profit again.

    Just want to add that QF is definitely not stingy with awards (maybe this is the perception of flyers not a member of their FF program). They just reward members of their own FF program. Their loyal travellers get the opportunity to upgrade with either cash or points, their Platinum members can even call up the platinum line and request QF to open up an award and this can be done if their are seats available in your requested class in a certain fare bucket (even if they don’t show them on the award inventory).

    Don’t assume that friends and family get freebees, I know Senior Managers and partners of CSM’s and they sure do not fly F or C all the time, in fact, more often they are in the back…..

    I think some people tend to feel over entitled, they assume that with their massive credit card sign up bonuses they should be able to travel the world first class at a next to nothing cost and if an airline doesn’t automatically open up tow or more awards per flight they call the airline stingy? Wake up people, The world is changing, airlines are making money and there is really no need to give away seats.

    QF does the right thing (from a business perspective) by rewarding people who actually fly with them more than any other random person who happened to have a heap of miles earned on credit card spend or bought at a discount….

  17. @Terence – It means that the total revenue from both airlines flights between the two cities will be totaled up and divided equally, so no matter which airline you book, the airlines will get paid exactly the same.

  18. @Daniel
    Qantas fly 1x A380 and 1x 747 daily on the SYD-LAX route, they’re cutting 3 of those weekly 747 flights and 1x from the 3x weekly 747 MEL-LAX for the new 6x weekly 747 SYD-SFO (yes, better fleet utilisation). In addition you have this new 1x daily LAX-SYD return from AA.

    Overall, capacity-wise, you have:
    +3x weekly SYD-LAX
    +6x weekly SYD-SFO
    -1x weekly MEL-LAX

  19. @W, that is easy to do (split revenue equally) when we’re talking point to point sale LAX/SYD vv. But what if the segment was part of a multi segment booking e.g. LHR/LAX/SYD vv ? How does the revenue get apportioned to split up the revenue for the LAX/SYD vv segments?
    By the way prior to this announcement, has the JV always been on a revenue split basis? Or is this another change?

  20. @Fasl It seems to make sense. Fingers crosses for that! Yes, I just need a bed up in the air! (Y–>J)

    @W I am under the impression that QF and AA have been adopting the revenue share in the US-Aussie market. The wording of ‘Route Revenue Share’ caught my eye as it seemed to me they would share the revenue on LAX-SYD but not on the other routes since there aren’t literally AA metal flying there. Am I misreading the lines here?

  21. @Terence & W

    I just found this out from the Qantas press release, “As part of the changes, the four year old Qantas and American Airlines joint venture will shift to a Route revenue share agreement.”

    If I’ve read this correctly, the revenue sharing arrangement is now a new feature. A shift to route revenue share implies that the previous agreement was not a revenue share arrangement.

    I’m quite concerned on the impact of ticket prices for EU to Australia (via USA) fares, given that going forward AA is not just going to sell seats on QF planes…

    What are your thoughts Ben?

  22. @ TheRealBabushka — Right, the type of arrangement does change, given that previously American didn’t operate any flights to Australia. So it couldn’t have been a full on revenue sharing agreement, since they weren’t carrying any passengers.

  23. @ Jon — Because the capacity is being added by American. Take a look at DFW-HKG, for example. How many saver level business class award seats do you see over the next year? Certainly not two per flight!

  24. @Miles Down Under, I would completely take Air New Zealand anyday over American, specifically because of their service they’re easily one of my top airlines. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  25. @ Matt — If you can find space, I’d say the nonstop on Qantas is a great option. I especially love their upper deck seating.

  26. @ Tommy — Sorry for the confusion. The context of the statement was nonstop flights between the US and New Zealand.

  27. @ Daniel — Yep, they are reducing frequencies on one of their LAX flights, and operating the SFO flight with it, along with improved aircraft utilization.

  28. @ Terence —

    1) I don’t know all the details, but presumably on some level the relationship is being strengthened, since American is actually starting flights to Australia, and seems to want to expand to other points in the region in the future.
    2) It’s a mild increase, given that they’re removing 3x weekly Qantas flights while adding 7x weekly American flights.
    3) That would be my assumption. Relatively easy at first, and probably more difficult over time.

  29. Hi Lucky – do you have any insight into when the SYD-SFO flight will become bookable? I’m planning a trip for January and want to get this booked up pretty soon but nothing showing up on schedules yet!

  30. @ Alex — Unfortunately I don’t. Reached out to get clarification, but they didn’t have an answer. As soon as I know anything I’ll be sure to post.

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