Traveling down under to Australia is one of the most heavily-restricted air travel markets. However, yesterday Qantas and American Airlines make some changes to their services over the Pacific to increase opportunities. As of the middle of December 2015, both American (AA) and Qantas (QF) are going re-add services that were previously cut.
In a joint press conference, Qantas and American announced “new services” over the Pacific. On the 17th of December, American will begin flying daily non-stop service from Los Angeles to Sydney on their new 777-300ER. A few days later, Qantas will begin the Sydney to San Francisco route with a 747-400.
“Our customers have asked us to expand to important business markets across the Pacific, and flying our flagship aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER, to Sydney will provide another world-class travel experience from our key gateway at LAX,” says American CEO Doug Parker.
“For over 20 years, we’ve worked in partnership with American to give our customers the best network on both sides of the Pacific. We are excited to take the alliance to a new level and expand our services to new destinations including San Francisco,” said Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group.
Wait a second… New destinations? I don’t think so!
Let’s take a little trip into the history books to see that these really aren’t “new destinations” for either airline, but more of a return to those cities. Back in 1992, AA was flying across the Pacific using the good-old DC-10. But things were not working out for them again (at that point it was not their first time to get in on that route) and they decided to end their service. AA & QF decided to come to an agreement that has stood since that day to partner across the Pacific.
QF provides the planes, AA provides codeshares and service on the US end. Win-win for both sides, right? Well, AA has probably decided the third time’s a charm, and are now getting back into that route.
Qantas, at the moment, flies the most service of any airline between Australia and the USA, with daily A380 flights to Los Angeles from both Sydney and Melbourne. Add in service from Brisbane to LA, and then extra services on some days of the week from Melbourne and Sydney. There is also the Dallas-to-Sydney flight (currently the longest commercial flight in the world), which adds to become quite a bit of service to the continental U.S. (not even going to start on Hawaii, that is a whole other kettle of fish).
So why is San Francisco a big deal? Well, it is a secondary west coast city that can be accessed from the east coast of Australia. For Qantas (and oneworld as a whole) the city isn’t all that great, because there is not that much in connecting traffic. However, from an O&D (origin and destination) perspective, this is a big city for business. Sure leisure travelers might be happy to go direct, but the Silicon Valley businesses will also be driving traffic.
Qantas used to serve SFO up until 2011, when they pulled their service, leaving only United. For United, this is their prime west coast service as they have a full hub to connect passengers.
This isn’t all about just adding. By cutting the four extra ex-LAX Sydney services and one of the Melbourne services, Qantas will free up enough aircraft to operate SFO six days a week. So say goodbye to your double-daily flights from Sydney and the double services from Melbourne on certain days; you are now back to single A380s each day.
From a passenger perspective, though, this brings back some premium services to the SFO area. Qantas will operate a three-class 747-400 (Economy, Premium Economy, and Business).
On the LAX route there will be some strong competion with United, Delta, and Virgin Australia that are all going up against the AA/QF combo.
To be perfectly honest, this announcement would normally be a non-event. Wow, an airline is adding a new route… *snore*.
However, watching two airlines backflip on previous decisions, trying to make it sound all glamorous and amazing, is quite funny. Qantas is probably saying to itself, “Well, you know what, maybe it was a bad idea to leave San Francisco, hope you don’t mind us coming back”. Meanwhile, American is thinking “third time’s a charm.”
Both of these decisions are great for the traveling public in the short-term; in the long-term, well, that remains to be seen.
When the ME3 start running across the Pacific, someone come get me. ‘Til then.. where did I leave my pillow? I need a nap.