Travellers hoping to jet first class between Melbourne and Los Angeles next year appear to have had their high-flying hopes dashed, based on the latest round of schedule updates cascading through Qantas’ timetable.
Those changes indicate the airline has abandoned its planned rollout of the Airbus A380s on the trans-Pacific route from late March 2023.
In its place remains the steadfast Boeing 787 Dreamliner, stepping into the daily QF93/QF94 slot.
While the A380 and Dreamliner share the same business class and premium economy seats, the 787 of course doesn’t have the superjumbo’s 14 first class suites, nor the upper deck ‘premium lounges’ where business and first class passengers can relax with a drink and light snack.
And with the double-decker A380 carrying significantly more passengers than the Boeing 787 – including an extra 28 business class seats and a double-sized premium economy cabin – Qantas’ downsizing to the Dreamliner will add more pressure to the ongoing capacity squeeze caused by a mismatch between the number of travellers and the amount of seats in the sky.
Another wrinkle is that from late March the departure of QF93 will be pegged to late evenings, leaving Melbourne at 8.25pm to arrive into LAX at 5.45pm – less than ideal if you’ve got a connecting flight, especially to the US east coast.
Approached by Executive Traveller for comment, Qantas declined to comment specifically on the withdrawal of the A380 from Melbourne but said it was part of what the airline flagged in a market update on October 10 as “a conservative approach to scheduling” so that extra aircraft were available to be “called upon to reduce delays and cancellations.”
“This includes up to 10 narrow-body, six wide-body and four regional aircraft on standby across Qantas and Jetstar,” the airline noted at the time.
“This capacity can be gradually added back as certainty improves and the additional cost is expected to be similarly temporary.”
The handful of superjumbos which Qantas has brought back from desert hibernation remain allocated to the flagship Sydney-Los Angeles and Sydney-London routes, although five more are due back in the hangars by December 2023.
The same raft of schedule updates also sees the Melbourne-Singapore QF37/QF38 service pared back to three days a week, while the return of Sydney-San Francisco flights has now been pushed back to May.