Qantas Shares Details of New Routes to Chicago and San Francisco

Jun 17, 2019

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Two weeks ago, American Airlines and Qantas received tentative approval for their proposed joint venture covering flights between the US and Australia/New Zealand. Hours after this tentative approval was announced, Qantas said that it’d launch two new routes to the US — conditional on the final approval of the JV.

Now, Qantas is applying even more pressure on the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to give its final stamp of approval. On Monday afternoon in Australia, Qantas announced the details of these potential new routes — which Qantas says could go on sale “in the coming weeks” as long as the final approval is granted by the US DOT.

The teased route between Brisbane (BNE) and Chicago (ORD) would take approximately 16 hours and 20 minutes to cover the 8,901 direct flight miles, making it the fourth-longest flight in the world. Qantas also announced that it would launch 4x weekly service between the two cities “by the end of April 2020.”

As expected, Qantas is now saying that the flight would be operated by its Boeing 787-9 — which the airline just put into service back in December 2017. TPG has reviewed this aircraft in all three cabins:

Business class onboard Qantas' 787-9. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)
Business class onboard Qantas’ 787-9. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

As American Airlines has a major hub in Chicago, Qantas calculates that this new route would create 30 additional one-stop options between US cities and Brisbane. These would presumably include one-stop options like Joplin, Missouri (JLN) and Manchester, New Hampshire (MHT) to Brisbane.

For those traveling nonstop between Chicago and Brisbane, Qantas calculates that the new flight would save more than six hours of trip duration off of the shortest current round-trip option.

Qantas also announced that the new routes between Brisbane and San Francisco would operate three times a week and also be operated by its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. This route isn’t nearly as notable as the Brisbane-Chicago route, as Qantas already operates flights from both Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) to San Francisco. This new service would increase Qantas’ flights between San Francisco and the east coast of Australia to 2x daily — all served by the 787-9 Dreamliner.

In the announcement, Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce says that the new flights “demonstrates the confidence that we have in the local tourism industry and our commitment to the Sunshine State.” And no, the CEO isn’t mistaken on which US state is the Sunshine State. Brisbane is located in Queensland, which is referred to as Australia’s Sunshine State.

Joyce also heralded the “unprecedented access” that these two new routes would create, noting that “these flights will make it one stop from Chicago to Hamilton Island or San Francisco to Townsville.”

Two new routes would “add more than 170,000 seats across the Pacific each year,” according to Qantas. Indeed, the airline’s 236-seat Boeing 787-9 would fly 4x weekly round-trips to Chicago and 3x weekly round-trips to San Francisco, adding up to 172,280 additional seats per annum.

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