Qantas is expanding its successful A380 service between Dallas Fort Worth and Sydney to a daily service in mid-2020. The 13,800 kilometre flight is one of the world’s longest scheduled services. But 17 hours in the air doesn’t seem to put off passengers who have embraced the service since it began in 2011.
Presently, Qantas operates the service six days a week. There are no departures from either Sydney or Dallas on Tuesdays. But, as reported in Points From The Pacific, from June 30, 2020, flights will operate every day.
Given how successful the route has been for Qantas, it isn’t surprising.
The flights depart from Sydney each day at lunchtime. Owing to the international date line, you land in Dallas just thirty minutes later on the same day! If you really liked, say, Christmas, you could do it twice. No such luck on the flight out of Dallas. A late evening departure will see you touch down in Sydney in time for breakfast two days later. If you really didn’t like Christmas, you could skip it altogether.
There’s been a lot of growth on Australia – US routes
The step up in services to Dallas is part of growing momentum in services between the United States and Australia. Ten years ago, around the time of the GFC, services were thin and concentrated on Los Angeles.
Take it forward a decade and there is a wider range of competitors offering a broader range of destinations. In 2019 you have Delta Air Lines, Virgin Australia, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Qantas all offering nonstop services between Australia and the mainland United States. In addition, there are some interesting one-stop options with airlines like Hawaiian, Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways.
A range of new destinations has opened up. Qantas has been flying to Dallas for eight years, has reintroduced services to San Francisco, and will start flying to Chicago next year.
Nonstop services to Seattle are reportedly on the horizon. United Airlines flies into Australia from Los Angeles, San Francisco and offers the only nonstop services to Australia from Houston.
Delta Airlines has begun flying between Sydney and Los Angeles. Virgin Australia now offers services between three Australian east coast airports and Los Angeles, and American Airlines re-introduced services to Australia from Los Angeles after a long absence.
Good loads on transpacific flights
According to the Australian Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (BITRE), there were 12,576 flights between Australia and the United States in the 12 months to June 30, 2019. There were 4,038,149 seats available and 3,362,512 seats were filled, representing an average annual passenger load of 83.3%.
Only flights to the United Kingdom, Singapore and Japan performed better in terms of passenger loads.
What is interesting is that passenger loads were overall better overall on most US carriers than Australian carriers. The best performer was American Airlines. Its daily services between Los Angeles and Sydney had average passenger loads of 90.8% in the 12 months to June 30, 2019. This is despite American Airlines having one of the weaker transpacific products. Delta Air Lines also performed extremely well, with average passenger loads of 88.3% in the same 12 months on its daily services between Los Angeles and Sydney. Delta, however, has a fairly decent transpacific product.
The two Australian carriers, Qantas and Virgin Australia, had loads of 85.8% and 81.7% on flights between Australia and the United States. Virgin Australia, in particular, has one of the better products flying between Australia and the United States.
United Airlines was the laggard with passenger loads of just 81.0% in the same 12 months. But that might pick up this year now United is sending its best Polaris Suites into Sydney.
But taken together, these are good loads. What makes them even tastier for the airlines is that there’s a large amount of premium traffic between Australia and the United States. The Qantas flights between Sydney and Dallas use an A380. They are currently in the throes of being refurbished. Once all done, in about 12 months time, those A380s will have 14 first class seats, 70 business class seats, 60 premium economy seats, and 341 economy seats.
While you can argue about the extent of Qantas commitment to markets such as Europe, China, and South Asia, no-one can say it isn’t putting resources and plans into Dallas and the wider United States.