Qantas isn’t giving up on its pre-Covid plan for non-stop flights to Chicago, with CEO Alan Joyce saying the route “is still a huge opportunity” for the airline.
Just weeks before the inaugural Brisbane-Chicago flight on April 15 2020, Qantas was forced to suspend the service – and then its entire international network – as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
But the airline is once again looking to the future with optimism rather than trepidation, and Joyce is eager to “establish the network that we had before Covid, and planned to do.”
“We think Brisbane-Chicago is still a huge opportunity,” he tells Executive Traveller, while also citing Seattle – home to new Oneworld member Alaska Airlines – as another possibility.
“We’ve always said we would consider destinations like Seattle, as well as reinstating Dallas, so our potential there is huge.”
“But there is a little bit of movement over the next year or so before we get back to business as normal, and those routes are all generated by business traffic, so we hope to establish them as business traffic comes back.”
“Watch this space”
In the meantime, Qantas will continue to push new pins into its international network map, but with more of a focus on leisure travel and the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ market, which is enjoying a post-pandemic surge following almost two years of lockdown.
“What we’re doing at the moment is picking routes where we know there's a huge VFR traffic base,” Joyce explains.
“India is a big market for that, and that's why we went in… and we were right, there was huge demand.”
“And with Rome, with the big Italian communities in Melbourne and Sydney we thought the peak summer season would support the basis of that service and then we can tap into tourism on top of that.”
Delhi, Rome and other fresh destinations will make full use of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, “which have huge capabilities to do routes that we hadn’t considered before.”
“We have three new 787s arriving from July, which opens up an opportunity for us to expand the international network.”
“So watch this space,” Joyce teased, “because we have a range of new international routes to announce over the next couple of months.”