Qantas will fly Airbus A330s from Brisbane to LA, San Francisco

Qantas will work with Airbus to extend the flying range of its typically Asia-bound A330s to make it all the way to the USA.

By David Flynn, August 26 2021
Qantas will fly Airbus A330s from Brisbane to LA, San Francisco

Qantas' Brisbane flyers headed stateside are used to stepping onto a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but from early 2022 they'll be likely to see the smaller Airbus A330 taking them to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It's a long journey for what's usually more of a mid-range jet typically flown to Asia and back, but Qantas is playing every card in its deck – and rolling out every jet in its fleet – to ramp up the return of international flights from December 2021.

That includes pulling a few cards from up its sleeve in order to free up the Boeing 787s needed to backfill on Airbus A380 routes, with only five superjumbos expected to return by the end of 2022 on routes to Singapore, London and Los Angeles.

As part of the fleet shuffle as the dormant aircraft are reactivated and destinations reopen, Qantas says it will extend the range of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft "to operate some trans-Pacific routes such as Brisbane-Los Angeles and Brisbane-San Francisco."

"This involves some technical changes that are now being finalised with Airbus."

The Airbus A330s have essentially the same Business Suite as the Boeing 787s.
The Airbus A330s have essentially the same Business Suite as the Boeing 787s.

The Qantas A330s are fitted with an almost-identical business class seat as the Boeing 787-9s, although the privacy panel between the paired middle seats of the A330 is fixed in place, whereas the Dreamliner's updated model sees this panel able to be retracted for added sociability when travelling with a partner.

However, while the Boeing 787s feature a small cabin of 28 premium economy seats, the A330s have only two classes – business and economy.

Flying with a friend? The divider between the A330's paired middle seats is fixed in place.
Flying with a friend? The divider between the A330's paired middle seats is fixed in place.

The A330 also lacks several of the modern design traits of the Boeing 787 which are well-suited to longer flights, such as a lower effective cabin altitude and higher humidity to help mitigate the effects of jet lag.

At the time of writing Qantas has cited only Brisbane for these long-range A330 flights, with the substantially larger markets of Sydney and Melbourne set to see the Boeing 787-9 as the new trans-Pacific flagship on most flights, until the Airbus A380 returns to Sydney-Los Angeles from July 2022.

Three more Boeing 787s will join the Qantas fleet by mid-2023.
Three more Boeing 787s will join the Qantas fleet by mid-2023.

Over the coming 12 months Qantas will also finally take delivery of three extra Boeing 787-9s, which have been in storage with Boeing during the pandemic, to swell its Dreamliner fleet to 14 "to operate additional flights to key markets as demand increases."

This will hopefully mean that our US-bound Brisbane readers will once again see the Boeing 787-9 at their departure gate.

Also read: Here’s when, and how, Qantas expects overseas flights to return


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 24

Well, things will never be the same I guess but this is a negative for me as do like the PE product generally as value for money . 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 444

You'll still be able to fly in PE, but would just have to do a domestic connection to SYD as the first sector.

no one from BNE wants to go anywhere via bloody awful SYD airport. 5-6 longer to LAX. Yuk.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 196

The 787s were too premium heavy for the route, even more so post covid

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 444

Every time I've flown this route, J has been full.


Probably lots of upgrades, maybe.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

I don't know how many changes are required.  BNE-LAX is well within the A332's nominated range for the newer deliveries into QF's fleet; the older A332s (Cityflyers) probably couldn't do it but would be unlikely anyway as the only overseas destinations these older birds go to are NZ, CGK, DPS and MNL.

I guess range could be an issue on westbound services though I would've thought some capacity restrictions would've been all that was required especially since there are lots of diversion ports in the South Pacific if something happens that means range becomes a problem on individual flights.

reeves35 - yes Fiji stop on every trip

26 May 2011

Total posts 18

The 330 fleet was particularly unreliable before Covid. Working the aircraft too hard didn't help but their engineering reliability was poor when they were being flown very hard. I hope they don't have the same issues when they are flying longer. 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 241

Brisbane losing the premium 787. Perth to lose direct London flights.

That’s the price for irrational closed borders at any cost.

07 Jan 2016

Total posts 34

I guess the knock on effect of putting a330's on routes normally served by 787's, and 787's on routes normally served by a380's is that Qantas will be holding off on any new a350 purchases for Project Sunrise......

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 237

I think they have a surplus of A330s that need to be used? Guess they crunched the numbers and worth changing the config on these to make them fly to USA then to put Dreamliners which need to be used eventually to South America/USA, South Africa (if they don't make this an A330 from Perth to JNB). Could be possible they can't place the 787s at BNE caus they looking at more direct Europe routes then just London. Does this also mean BNE to Chicago ain't happening?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 237

Just realised could also mean less a330s on domestic routes - everyone else is B737!

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 24

Joyce certainly suggested WA Govt policy was involved but then Vic and NT shutdown very quickly too dont they? As for Brisbane, maybe the smaller plane can land directly at Toowoomba which you will need to visit for the first 6 months of 2022 anyway:) Of course , with AP money talks

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2517

Just to add a little bit of aviation detail here – not our core thing, so just sharing as an add-on comment – NZ-based Aviation Week regional lead Adrian Schofield (one of the industry's most knowledge as well as absolutely nicest blokes) says "to extend the range of its A330-200s, Qantas is working with Airbus to increase the maximum takeoff weight to a higher certifiable limit. The higher weight limit was not available when these aircraft entered service with Qantas." Whether this also means a restriction on passenger load sometimes, as we used to see on the return QF8 flight from DFW with row up on row of empty seats to reduce weight, remains to be seen. Also, some form of crew rest area will be added, due to the different crewing requirements of longer flights to the USA comparesd to say Asia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 648

Interesting that no mention is made of the LAX-JFK-LAX add-on sector, which was used pre-COVID19 to amalgamate travellers from SYD and MEL to LAX who were continuing on to JFK. Culling the add-on sector? Hmm, "Sunrise" and the A350 ain't quite ready for prime time until 2024, at the earliest?

Just speculation but .... I mentioned elsewhere that there is a report that the A380's are to be based in SYD on their return. Perhaps, in the initial resumption of service. maybe QF has decided to route the A380 as SYD-LAX-JFK and return, with a timetable change for BNE which sees the BNE-LAX service arrive in LAX before the SYD-LAX A380? The A380 would then continue on to JFK with the amalgamation of BNE & MEL passengers. Would make an acceptable diversion for 12-18 months , while exposing East Coast based Americans to the full luxury of the updated A380's for the full trip ?

Bear in mind that nothing has yet been announced in regard to SYD-DFW-SYD yet. So, it is to be expected that the SYD-LAX A380 would be fairly well patronised until DFW is resumed.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 194

Qantas is selling fewer seats for BNE-LAX and BNE-SFO, booking systems show instead of the standard J28Y243 (28 business and 243 economy) there's only J26Y208 open, so probably two flatbed business class seats set aside for crew rest and 35 economy class seats left vacant, equivalent to five rows in economy.


so 37 seats can't be sold. That sounds expensive.

Interestingly Fiji Airways has 2 x A359s which could probably do NAN/DFW, NAN/ORD or NAN/JFK nonstop & v.v. without any restriction.

Qantas still owns 46% of Fiji Airways I believe.

Wouldn't it make a lot of sense for Qantas to work in with Fiji Airways in the short term ? Changing aircraft at NAN means a very short walk.

Fiji Airways has A332s & an A333 which can do NAN/LAX & NAN/SFO.

28 Aug 2021

Total posts 1

Qantas used 747, not 787 for the LAX route. Covid 19 changed all that of course.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1018

They replaced the 747s going to North America with 787s during 2019.

At the time the international borders closed, all the US flights were A380 or 787.

The only QF 747 routes left by late 2019 were SYD to HND, SCL and JNB, with SCL already set to change to 787.

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 24

Qantas was using 787 for Brisbane LAX route before COVID ever appeared ? 

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