Executive Traveller exclusive
While international travel continues to surge, Qantas is being forced to rein in its ambitions for a larger slice of the pie.
The airline says ongoing ‘supply chain’ issues – including a shortage of parts, maintenance teams and even the availability of hangars – have further slowed the return of its flagship A380 jets.
While eight red-tailed superjumbos have returned to the skies since international borders reopened, one of these has yet to be upgraded with the airline's latest business class and premium economy, along with a fresh take on the upper-deck lounge.
Qantas previously planned to have all ten A380s back in the skies this year (down from the original dozen A380s, two of which have been junked), but now says the tally will stand at nine superjumbos by year’s end
This has forced another reshaping of Qantas’ international schedule to plug some superjumbo-sized holes, and the airline has confirmed to Executive Traveller the following changes to three key routes.
Fewer flights to New York
The marathon Sydney-Auckland-New York route launched in June 2023 was in line to become a daily Boeing 787 service in August, but will now remain pegged at four days per week due to the need to roster additional Dreamliners onto other parts of the international network in place of the Airbus A380.
However, Qantas is confident of moving to six New York flights pre week from early October.
More 787s to Los Angeles
Los Angeles remains the top US destination for Qantas, even with many travellers now bypassing LAX (and who can blame them?) to fly straight into New York, and the double-decker A380 plays a major role in moving passengers en masse from Sydney Melbourne to LA.
But with only eight superjumbos out of an original 12 now flying, Melbourne’s daily flights to Los Angeles will now feature the A380 on just two days per week, with the Boeing 787 filling the remaining five days each week.
Qantas A380 to Johannesburg
July 2024 was to have seen Sydney-Johannesburg move from a Boeing 787 to an Airbus A380, which would also have delivered first class onto the 14-hour journey.
That’s now been pushed back, with the Dreamliner remaining rostered onto QF63/QF64 six days a week until late September, when the A380 is slated to step back in.
(Qantas has previously advised the Sydney-Jo’burg superjumbo will drop to between four and six times per week, depending on the time of year and demand.)
This comes as South African Airways gears up to restart Johannesburg-Perth flights from April 28.
Qantas is now in the process of contacting passengers whose travel plans have been impacted by these changes, and says they will be re-accommodated but with the option of choosing travel credit or a full refund.
No more 787s from Sydney to Tokyo
The airline’s plans to launch Boeing 787 flights from Sydney to Paris in July, alongside seasonal flights to Rome from June, remain on track, as does the March 31 upgrade of the Sydney-Honolulu route from an Airbus A330 to a Boeing 787.
As previously reported, another change to make more Boeing 787s available for the likes of Los Angeles and Johannesburg is their removal from the overnight Sydney-Tokyo QF25 service (and of course the daytime QF26 return leg).
Starting today, February 8, the Dreamliner will be swapped out for an Airbus A330 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and as of March 31 the flight will shift to A330s on every day of the week – quite likely the result of Qantas being able to replace its own Sydney-Bangkok A330 with one leased from Finnair.
The modern Boeing 787 not only offers a quieter and generally more comfortable ride on those 9+hour flights, it also offers a compact premium economy cabin of 28 comfortable recliners, compared to the older A330s which lack this in-between cabin.
Qantas will begin retiring the A330s in 2027-2028 with a mixed fleet of both Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 jets, although some A330s will be refreshed and fitted with new economy seats to keep them flying well into the 2030’s.