Qantas Could Add Nonstop Flights To Chicago Or Seattle This Year

This past week Qantas started flying nonstop between Perth and London. This is the longest nonstop route Qantas has ever operated, and also the first scheduled commercial nonstop flight between Australia and Europe. This is all possible thanks to the 787-9, the first of which Qantas took delivery of late last year.

Qantas ordered a total of eight 787s, and they’ve already taken delivery of four of them. On top of that, they have up to 45 options with Boeing for ordering additional 787s, which they could take delivery of as early as late 2019. The airline isn’t just using 787 to launch new routes, but is also eventually trying to use the 787 as a replacement for the 747-400, which they plan to retire in the coming years.

Qantas has already launched and announced several 787 routes:

It would seem to me like they’re getting pretty maxed out on potential 787 plans, assuming they don’t intend to purchase some of the options they have. Despite their small 787 fleet, the airline still has lofty goals. We’ve known that Qantas would like to launch further nonstop flights from Australia to Europe, and Qantas’ CEO had hinted at the possibility of a nonstop flight from Perth to Paris.

However, before that happens, it looks like the US might be getting a new 787 route first. Bloomberg reports on what Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said yesterday while in London, following the launch of the 787. Specifically, Qantas is evaluating nonstop flights from Brisbane to either Chicago, Dallas, or Seattle.

All of these routes are feasible nonstop, as the distances are as follows:

  • Brisbane to Chicago — 8,902
  • Brisbane to Dallas — 8,304
  • Brisbane to Seattle — 7,342

As a point of comparison, Qantas’ new route from Perth to London covers a distance of 9,010 miles, so it’s just marginally longer than a potential Brisbane to Chicago flight.

There’s clear logic for each of these routes:

  • Chicago and Dallas are both oneworld hubs; Qantas already flies an A380 from Sydney to Dallas, and the flight has performed well, while Air New Zealand just announced flights to Chicago
  • Seattle is a booming market, an Alaska Airlines hub, and the route has the advantage of being significantly shorter than the others, which is great in terms of operating costs

Any of these routes launching is contingent upon the joint venture between American and Qantas being approved. I suspect it will be approved in the coming months, and if that’s the case, Joyce says that whichever route they decide to launch could start by the end of the year.

Which do I think is most likely? If Qantas weren’t hoping to operate this as part of a joint venture, you’d think Seattle would be the obvious choice. They’d have tons of connectivity with Alaska Airlines, the flight is significantly shorter than the other flights, and Seattle is a big market. However, the fact that this would be operated as part of a joint venture with American makes me think that unlikely, and that they’ll probably go with either Chicago or Dallas.

Do you think Qantas will follow through on one of these new routes, and if so, which one?

Comments

  1. Hoping it is Chicago. I know Qantas is horribly stingy with biz class award availability, but as I can use Chicago as a home airport the idea of a nonstop to Australia is very appealing, even if I have to sit in cattle class. All of the connections required to get to Australia for me now are exhausting.

  2. They already fly to Dallas from Sydney so i think they’d prefer a different gateway and this speaks for Chicago. No surprise that Air New Zealand would love to beat them to the punch with launching their just announced flight there soonest. And Chicago would be abit more high profile that Seattle. Plus this route has been rumoured for ages

    When it comes to Europe, i’m surprised there hasn’t been talk of Frankfurt. FRA is the last continental Europe route they axed (leaving the island that is UK). I guess the joint ventures LH has with SIA and Cathay have probably left the Germany-Australia routings pretty much in the firm hands of LH and its friends plus Emirates who constantly have attractive prices to Australia.

  3. Have airlines learned no lessons in terms of cautious route strategy and restraint? Just because the new airplane can reach such ridiculous distances and eek out the same $ margins per flight doesn’t mean you should jump to serve those routes. These are bordering on “pride” routes and just testing the waters. Is there enough nonstop demand from Seattle (even Chicago) to justify shedding cargo profits and operating margin to fly gas around?

    Qantas (and others thinking similarly) would do better to use the new aircraft to improve the margins on existing profitable routes, and build up some operational comfort levels.

    Just because you can suddenly do something doesn’t mean you should. If airline history has shown anything, it’s that the advantages of a new airplane type quickly go to zero as soon as everyone has it. Better to use the new tech to solidify your advantage while you have the window.

    On the other hand, maybe as passengers, take advantage of the new fares while they have the route for 6 months and promote it…

  4. Hoping Chicago too but from an operations perspective Dallas could make more sense since they already fly SYD-DFW

  5. AC EWR-YVR-BNE may be affected if QF starts SEA-BNE. Some business people drive to YVR for YVR-BNE.

  6. Call me naive with this stuff, but why do a lot of non-stop flights go to Brisbane and not Melbourne or Sydney?

  7. @Mark: Brisbane is a shorter flight from everywhere in the USA than Sydney or Melbourne. Back when the Dallas-Sydney flight began it had to first stop in Brisbane on the DFW-SYD leg of the flight as Sydney was a bit too long for the 747. Switched it to an A380 and was able to make it DFW-SYD nonstop

  8. Isn’t Qantas flight 93 from Melbourne to Los Angeles on the A380? I have a flight in November 2018 and it states A380 . Is this now going to be on the 787 now?

  9. I hope they do it. Connections through LAX are a PITA and direct flights will be attractive ( but possibly prohibitively expensive?).
    As for Europe, it wasn’t so long ago that Qantas served Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Belgrade, Athens, Amsterdam ( and that Alitalia, UTA, KLM, JAT, Olympic flew to Australia). The Dubai experiment is over and it is to be hoped that the 787 will facilitate some direct flights and possibly the return of some European carriers to Australia.

  10. With our company winding back travel from business to coach, there is no way I’m every sitting in coach for 17 hrs+. SYD >> DXB is about all I can handle in coach, and even then, by the time I’m flying over India I’ve had enough. Looks like it will be extra stopovers on another flight or carrierfor me if it’s ever a long haul 787 flight. Each to their own I guess.

  11. @Mark @Alan – for their first eight 787s, Qantas is basing four in Melbourne and four in Brisbane. The one near certainty, is the extra US flight will be from Brisbane – unless they wish to position the plane all the time (which I doubt).

    @Jan – barring some changes every now and then, Qantas generally flies the A380 from MEL to LAX daily. It is currently also doing 6 extra 787 flights on the route, which will drop to two 787 flights once MEL to SFO is launched.

  12. You have to figure lots of people would connect from BNE to MEL or SYD… so I don’t get it… is there really that big of a ORD-BNE business case??

  13. Brisbane has had massive airport upgrades going on for quite some time, a lot of people live further out of Brisbane in the Sunshine and Gold Coast areas. A quick hope from SYD or MEL up to BNE is more logical than passengers from Brisbane going South even though the populations levels are much bigger in the more southern cities. I think QF can still acquire a load factor, there’s also the whole population outside of Sydney and Melbourne… those from Perth/Darwin/Adelaide etc have to connect in one of the east coast cities so if QF they wanted they could do the flights via Brisbane.
    I would hope they did Seattle to connect with Alaska but I doubt with the American Relationship this will happen I most certainly think they’ll do Chicago as it has Oneworld and a competition to Star Alliance

  14. Lucky you should review SQ’s new business class 787-10 to Perth and then go to London nonstop on QF

  15. @Cedric – well yes, they are much bigger cities. However SYD – ORD is 9232miles, which is further than Perth to London.

  16. Re Sam … he is right about ORD, it has been spoken about for quite some time, soon after DFW was increased and I think QF did a promo in Chicago. As for Europe, Paris is first choice and Alan Joyce has suggested that Germany could follow with Frankfurt or maybe even Berlin. He has also suggested that Jetstar the lose cost arm, could “spread wings” further afield to more holiday places in Europe.

  17. The Chicago City Council has just approved a multimillion dollars expansion for O’hare.
    The targeted ‘victim’ is AA ‘s terminal 3…
    Combining both Domestic and…..international together….!!
    Thus the QF Cathay choice of ORD seems much more plausible…..

  18. Slot availability is also an issue in Sydney and Melbourne.

    I suspect these the metal performing these routes will do the same as the current arrangement with the 787’s – namely LAX / MEL / PER / LHR and back again. These US / BNE routes will connect with a BNE / PER / CDG or FRA flight.

    I also suspect any routing will fill relatively quickly. Most people I know travelling from Aust to the US regularly will avoid LAX if heading anywhere outside SoCal, Vegas or AZ.

  19. That Flt would be perfect for me in Nov but just like SW to Hawaii when it starts we will see the cost and award price .

  20. My money is also on ORD. Any one traveling from Aus to NOT SoCal would want to connect in another large hub further east. Also, with the O’hare expansion being approved, the new International Terminal that combines international and domestic routes into the same terminal will be a major draw for OneWorld and StarAlliance airlines. Also, if Amazon chooses Chicago as its HQ2, all the subsidiary/supporting businesses that will sprout in the city should make a good case for more business travel.

  21. Seattle could make some sense given for the summer time so make it seasonal cruises to alaska operate.

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