Qantas Proposes Two New US-Australia Routes — Here’s What Needs to Happen First
On Monday morning, the US Department of Transportation announced a tentative approval of a joint venture partnership between American Airlines and Qantas. Now, Qantas and American Airlines have issued a joint press release on the matter.
In celebration of the news, Qantas announced two new (hopeful) routes to the US. In order to entice US regulators toward final approval of the joint venture, Qantas and American Airlines co-announced that "once final approval is received," the following US–Australia routes would be launched within the first 2 years:
- Chicago (ORD) to Brisbane (BNE)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Brisbane (BNE)
Qantas service to Chicago has only been discussed as part of Project Sunrise. That's Qantas' ambitious project to launch ultra long-haul flights between eastern Australia and far-flung destinations such as New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. The only thing that's missing is a plane that can fly that far, but both Airbus and Boeing are working on producing an aircraft that could fit Qantas' needs.
At 8,901 miles, Brisbane to Chicago would be a very long flight — but not Qantas' longest flight. That record is currently held by Qantas' flight from Perth, Australia (PER) to London's Heathrow (LHR). At just over 9,000 direct flight miles, the Perth-London route currently ranks as the world's third-longest commercial airline route.
Brisbane-Chicago would be the fourth-longest flight in the world behind Singapore (Airbus A350-900ULR) from Singapore to Newark, Qatar (Boeing 777-200LR) from Doha to Auckland and Qantas' Perth-London route. Meanwhile, Brisbane (BNE) to San Francisco (SFO) is significantly shorter at 7,063 direct flight miles.
The tentative announcement of these routes doesn't state which aircraft would be utilized. However, based on Qantas' current long-haul fleet — and scheduled retirement of the Boeing 747-400 from US routes — it's likely that at least the Chicago route would utilize the airline's Boeing 787-9. TPG has reviewed Qantas' 787-9 in all three cabins:
- Business Class From Melbourne to Perth
- Premium Economy From Sydney to Melbourne
- Economy From Perth to London Heathrow
Even if you don't intend to fly either of the new routes, American Airlines loyalists have plenty to root for. The two airlines have stated that the joint business would enable a deeper integration of each carrier's frequent flyer program, "including higher earn rates for points on each other’s networks beyond what is possible today through oneworld, as well as increased redemption opportunities and improved reciprocal end-to-end recognition of our top-tier frequent flyers."
That's in addition to an expanded codeshare relationship and optimized schedules on transpacific services, which promises more connections to more destinations and reduced total travel time. Plus, Qantas and AA members would get improved access to seats on each carrier's network, as well as "investments in lounges, baggage systems and other infrastructure designed to better serve the carriers’ joint customers."