Qantas is preparing a renewed push into Europe, the USA and Asia as more jets join the red-tailed fleet.
With the launch of direct flights to Paris from mid-2024, along with a return to Rome from June to October 2024, the airline is crunching the numbers on additional ‘city pairs’ between Australia and international destinations.
“We always have five or six different city pairs under what we call ‘deep observation’ – looking at passenger flows (and) looking at yields,” Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace shared during a panel discussion at South x Southwest Sydney last month on Qantas’ non-stop Project Sunrise flights.
It’s likely that perennial favourites Chicago and Seattle are on Wallace’s radar, as he confirmed “we’ve been looking at markets in the States.”
“We've got a good business in the States because it diversifies – we’ve got JFK, we've got LA and we have San Francisco – but we can look at other places in the States.”
The lure of the Windy City
As it happens, Qantas had already locked in Brisbane-Chicago flights for April 2020 before they became an early casualty of the Covid pandemic – but as the only non-stop flight between Australia and The Windy City, this would provide a valuable ‘monopoly route' for Qantas.
In addition to being the USA's third-largest city and an attractive destination in its own right, Chicago also serves as a gateway to the mid-West and a hub for American Airlines.
Seattle remains another stateside possibility for the Boeing 787, with direct flights almost the same distance as Qantas’ current trans-Pacific trek between Sydney and Vancouver.
Seattle’s long-standing appeal spans from being the home of US high-tech titans to a hub for Arctic and Alaskan cruises, not to mention the natural outdoor attractions of the Pacific Northwest.
An added incentive for Qantas could also be that Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is now a member of the Oneworld alliance, so Sydney-Seattle flights could also enjoy a solid serve of inbound tourism through the partnership.
More flights from Perth into Europe?
Europe could also see another city added to the trio of London, Paris and Rome, with Wallace stating “we see pockets of opportunities in the next six to nine months.”
“Ultimately we want to grow our business, we want to grow our long haul market. We've got a tremendous number of new aircraft coming on board,” Wallace noted, also citing the single-aisle Airbus A220 and A321XLR jets as game-changers for Qantas’ international capabilities.
“The A321XLR opens up massive opportunities in Asia, as does the A220, which has tremendous range.”
Qantas sees both aircraft as being able to tackle not just domestic but also short-range international routes.
Wallace cited both aircraft’s “cost per available seat kilometre (profile), which means that you can fly an aircraft further, the costs are lower, so therefore you can provide customers a better and more attractive airfare.”
This was the key to “a lower cost base so we can open up to markets that historically the aircraft weren't efficient enough for us to connect cities and towns... so we've got really exciting opportunities (ahead).”