American Airlines is returning to Sydney for the first time in over 40 years as part of an extended expansion of the carrier’s alliance with Qantas.
The announcement will see the US carrier fly direct from Los Angeles to Sydney for the first time (the carrier has not flown to Sydney since the 1980s) and Qantas return to San Francisco.
As part of the changes, the four-year-old Qantas and American Airlines joint venture will shift to a route revenue share agreement.
Qantas will return to the Sydney-San Francisco route – currently the most popular onward destination for corporate customers that it doesn’t already serve directly on its network – from 20 December 2015.
Services will initially operate on peak days and ramp up to six per week in January 2016 using its newer Boeing 747-400 aircraft with the same style interiors found on the airline’s A380s.
Qantas’ flights to San Francisco are made possible by American Airlines starting a direct daily Sydney to Los Angeles service from 19 December 2015.
This will replace four Qantas’ B747 Sydney to Los Angeles services per week and one Qantas B747 Melbourne to Los Angeles service per week.
American Airlines’ Trans-Pacific flights will be operated by its new B777-300ER featuring lie-flat seats in First and Business. Qantas will retain its daily A380 Sydney to Los Angeles and Melbourne to Los Angeles services, as well as its B747 Brisbane-Los Angeles flights, and the airlines will codeshare on each other’s services.
Qantas said the enhanced relationship also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said the expanded relationship was good news for travelelrs, the local tourism industry and the corporate market.
“American Airlines is one of our most important alliance partners, and this deal strengthens the long-standing ties between us to provide a platform for future growth across the Pacific,” he said.
“At its heart, this is about delivering an enhanced network and better service for customers of both airlines well into the future.
“Together with American, we can offer direct flights and unrivalled frequencies from Australia to Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth, seasonal services to Vancouver and one stop services to JFK via LAX. We also offer coordinated schedules that allow seamless travel within the United States and Australia.
“San Francisco is now the most popular onward destination for Qantas’ customers travelling to the U.S. and we’re thrilled to be going back. We know there is a strong demand for direct flights, particularly from our corporate clients who will save about four hours each way by not having to connect through LAX.
“We expect to see the strong growth in U.S. visitors coming to Australia continue, because of the strengthening U.S. economy but also because of the investment AA will make in promoting their new route. The world’s largest airline will be talking a lot more about Australia in their home market, and that’s great news for tourism,” Joyce said.
American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker said Qantas has been a fantastic partner through oneworld and the joint business relationship.
“Strengthening those ties has provided us with a solid foundation to introduce American-operated flights into the Australian region,” he said.
“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.”
The airlines will shortly apply for regulatory approval for these new arrangements.