Qantas A380 Sydney Harbour EDITED

Qantas is set to upgrade flights on the popular Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth route to the Airbus A380, a move welcomed by the tourism industry.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the new A380 service, replacing the Boeing 747-400ER from September 2014, was the result of several scheduling changes designed to unlock more flying time, as flagged in February this year under the ‘Qantas Transformation Program’.

“As part of our strategy to build a stronger Qantas, we’re reducing the amount of time our domestic and international fleet spend on the ground,” Joyce said.

“Aircraft are one of our biggest fixed costs and maximising the amount of time they spend in the air is good news for our customers and for Qantas – especially when it comes to the A380.

“We have retimed A380 services between Melbourne and London to create a win-win for both our European and American networks.

“This schedule change unlocks more A380 flying time that we can use on the Dallas route, and now offers four times the number of onward connections to Europe because of the new arrival time of the Melbourne flight into Dubai,” he said.

Joyce said constantly improving onward connections was key to delivering a better flying experience for customers.

“Dallas has become an important gateway for Qantas customers since we started flying there in 2011. It is the hub for our partner American Airlines and offers more than 30 destinations beyond the west coast of the United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico on their network.

“When you combine the A380 with the onward connections available from Dallas, this is a great example of the right aircraft on the right route,” he said.

The additional range of the A380 over the B747 it replaces on the Dallas route will see the return service operate direct to Sydney rather than via Brisbane.

The larger aircraft also means Qantas will fly six return services per week between Sydney and Dallas (every day except Tuesdays) compared to seven days a week with the B747.

This represents a net increase of seats on the route by more than 10 per cent per week.

The non-stop Airbus A380 services to Sydney from Dallas-Fort Worth will improve the customer experience and make it easier for Americans to visit the New South Wales capital, according to the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the service will provide a boost to the visitor economy.

“This is great news for Sydney because Americans can now fly non-stop direct to Sydney from Dallas-Fort Worth on the world’s largest passenger aircraft,” Morrison said.

“The direct flights will reduce travel time for Sydney-bound passengers, while replacing Boeing 747s with quieter and more comfortable A380s will improve the passenger experience.

“This also brings Sydney closer to potential visitors across North America, as Dallas-Fort Worth is home to Qantas partner American Airlines, allowing one-stop connections to dozens of cities in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“Using A380s also delivers a capacity increase on the route of more than 10 per cent, which will help to increase visitation from the US to Australia.

“Increasing aviation capacity is critical to getting more international visitors here and to helping New South Wales achieve its aim of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.

“The US is one of the top five tourism markets for both New South Wales and Australia and this service upgrade will help that market continue to grow, as well as delivering an estimated $25 million a year in additional spending by international visitors.

“Congratulations must go to the New South Wales government, Destination New South Wales, Sydney Airport and Qantas on today’s announcement,” Morrison said.

Fleet and network adjustments are earmarked to save up to $600 million over three years for the Qantas Group from the overall $2 billion cost reduction target that is at the centre of the airline’s turnaround plans. Increased aircraft utilisation and accelerated retirement of older, un-reconfigured B747s form part of this.

Last month Qantas announced a seasonal Perth-Auckland service that uses an A330 aircraft that previously spent weekends on the ground in Perth, when regular business travel demand is much lower. In December last year Qantas increased its Brisbane-Los Angeles schedule to daily.

This month marks the 60th anniversary of Qantas services to the US. In 1954, Qantas operated a Super Constellation from Sydney to San Francisco – its first trans-Pacific route to North America.

Qantas has worked closely with its tourism partners, Destination NSW and Sydney International Airport to secure its new A380 Dallas/Fort Worth service, and previously Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Airport Corporation to secure its daily Los Angeles service.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management