Low on fuel: Qantas flight QF8 from Dallas diverts to Noumea

By John Walton, May 30 2011
Low on fuel: Qantas flight QF8 from Dallas diverts to Noumea

A Qantas 747 has diverted again because pilots worried it was running low on fuel as it flew from Dallas/Fort Worth to Brisbane.

The flight, which continues on to Sydney, landed and refueled at Noumea in New Caledonia, resulting in a two hour delay to passengers.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller this morning: "QF8 diverted to Noumea to refuel because of stronger-than-forecast headwinds. The flight arrived in Brisbane at 0700 this morning, two hours late."

Arrivals boards at Brisbane and Sydney airports confirm the flight landing two hours late, eventually arriving at 0700 in Brisbane (scheduled for 0500) and 1005 in Sydney (scheduled for 0805). 

Noumea is a usual diversion airport for flights across the Pacific, and it's fairly handy for flights from Dallas to Brisbane. The map below from the ever-useful Great Circle Mapper site shows that QF8 wouldn't have had to divert too much from its track, meaning extra delays were minimised.

Qantas can't seem to catch a break on this route, which has already had to leave baggage behind in Dallas and divert to Houston in its first week of operation. 

Questions are being asked -- and not just by Australian Business Traveller -- why Qantas is having difficulty on the route, which stretches its Boeing 747-400ER aircraft to its maximum range limits on the Dallas/Fort Worth run.

ABC has reported pilots concerns that Qantas management is pressuring on them to carry the minimum possible amount of fuel, which will result in more diversions than ever before.  

We hope the airline can figure out how to make the route work soon, because it does offer a number of benefits to business travellers. 

Connecting onto Qantas' oneworld partner American Airlines via AA's main Dallas/Fort Worth hub rather than LAX in Los Angeles means extra single-stop connections from Australia to US cities

The longest leg of the journey through DFW is on Qantas' angled-flat first-generation Skybed. That means that business class passengers also get to spend more time in an international-standard business class seat when compared with connecting through LAX on American Airlines' recliner-style domestic first class seats. Those are roughly equivalent to Qantas' domestic business class seats.

But comfortable seats and Qantas' service don't help when you're two hours late to a meeting. If you have a deadline at the other end of your flight, consider the more reliable Qantas flights to Los Angeles' LAX airport.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 18

Once is bad luck, twice is coincidence but three times is just very bad planning.  I think I'll stick to QF107/108 combination until this experiment succeeds or fails.

From a business travel point of view (170k km on QF this year so far and a around 300k all up) the biggest benefit an airline can provide is getting me to my destination on time and with all my stuff.  If they can't provide this reliably and regularly the rest really does not matter. 

2-3 hour delay certainly means a missed connection and missed meetings.  And in some cases these have been meets set up months in advance and may be impossible to rearrange. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 May 2011

Total posts 1

This is ridiculous. Qantas needs to take a look at whats happening and realise this is constantly going to happen. Instead of trying to stretch right to Brisbane which is obviously and issue. Why don't they make a regular stop over at Noumea then go directly to Sydney. It would pose a much easier connection rather than having to ultimately conduct two stop overs, which is a regular occurance/ going to be a regular occurance (Especially with current worldwide meterological events). They need to be logical and think what the customer would want. Would they rather having to divert with >2 hour delays with safety risks and constant media attention. Loosing customers because they are aware of the safety risks and over stated incidents that the media constantly writes, or a stop over with on time performance? I know what I would want...

I would imagine they prefer to go to Brisbane because that will be the final destination for quite a few people anyway. Imagine Dallas-Noumea-Sydney-Brisbane rather than Dallas-Brisbane ... but still, it is getting a little rediculous now that they obviously are going to continue to have problems. Another solution would be to block out more seats so as to lighten the aircraft, but that would be costly too. :\

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Ben Sandilands writes that  "According to excellent sources, Qantas is blocking off large numbers of seats as not for sale on the routes ... to avoid unscheduled stops along the routes to and from Texas" (Dumping luggage at Dallas: what choice did Qantas have but to leave baggage behind?)

Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 66

Again? My god.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

I have been really speaking out defending QF on this site with these articles, but I am totally won over... This flight is flawed and needs management's attention desperately... I commented on another article that I would prefer to see this service do SYD-DFW-AKL-SYD, which still offers one stop connections (via AKL) to Melbourne and Brisbane (plus Cairns and the Gold Coast on JQ), would probably only add about half an hour of travel time, would be able to carry virtually a full load regardless of winds and would beat Continental's planned 787 IAH service. 

OR get some 777-200LRs on a buy back arrangement... Keep them for 5 years to run this flight (maybe get a couple of extras for other routes) then sell them back to Boeing once the 787-9s arrive... Rotate them through DFW to let AA do maintanence...

Come on Qantas...


30 May 2011

Total posts 37

Looking at the map, I'm not sure if Qantas could link the route through Honolulu to Dallas. I'm sure it costs them money to land a plane in Noumea and it's probably causing headaches. I may be wrong if the economics might not work, but I have to say that flying shabby 767s to HNL while the domestic routes are served by revamped 747s and A330s with new onboard product probably doesn't help Qantas win many customers on that ill equpped North American route. Probably doesn't help Qantas image particularly when the CEO stated that the international operations are unviable.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Low on fuel: Qantas flight QF8 from Dallas diverts to Noumea