Qantas axes daily Boeing 747 Sydney-Los Angeles flights

By Chris Chamberlin , November 17 2015
Qantas axes daily Boeing 747 Sydney-Los Angeles flights

Qantas will dial back flights between Sydney and Los Angeles next year, axing its Boeing 747 service on the route after joint venture partner American Airlines launches daily Sydney-LAX flights in December.

Currently running daily but dropping to three-times-weekly in January 2016, QF17/18 will retire completely come April, although Qantas’ daily flagship Airbus A380 flights (QF11/12) will continue.

With its late afternoon departure from Sydney, QF17 was a favourite among business travellers who could spend the better part of the day working at home or in the office before jetting to the US and arriving in time for dinner on the same calendar day.

Its departure also means less choice for passengers, as Qantas’ remaining QF11 flight and American’s AA72 service (codeshared as QF309) both depart in the mornings within just 90 minutes of each other:

The rejig frees up a reconfigured Boeing 747 with A380-like seating and amenities to operate Qantas’ new Sydney-San Francisco flights and to upsize its Melbourne-Hong Kong flights to the jumbo from a smaller Airbus A330 on three days each week from April 2016.

The latter adds premium economy into the mix to compete with Cathay Pacific, while Qantas will also ramp up its Airbus A380 flights from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth to a daily service from April after doing the same over the upcoming Christmas and New Year travelling peak season.

Also read: Qantas eyes non-stop Sydney-NY flights with Boeing 777-8X

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

Qantas will also reduce the QF11/12 days operated by the A380 from 7 too 6 with a 747 operating the Tuesday for the Sydney - Dallas to operate Dailly

Hi Christopher, currently the GDS/booking system shows QF11/12 remaining as an Airbus A380 on all days after the switcheroo, but we'll keep our eyes on this in case this is updated.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

Qantas also announced further tweaks to its North American network on Tuesday, including a reduction in A380-operated services on Sydney-Los Angeles. While the airline will maintain a daily service, six flights a week will be with the double-decker superjumbo, with a Boeing 747-400 to operate the seventh flight. 

From Australian Aviation

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

Hmmm until I see something from QF directly or a change to the booking system, I will hazard a guess that AA has this wrong. QF will want daily F between SYD-LAX

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

Looks like I was wrong. 

Still very surprised by this change.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

Any reason why the QF would need to sub an A380 from SYD-LAX to operate the SYD-DFW route daily? They can do SYD-DFW daily without affecting other routes (which is what they do over busy periods anyway).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

Im sure the only reason they have been able to operate SYD-DFW previously and upcoming is when all A380s are in service/non are in  maintenance in Manila. 

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

That's been the reason when QF SYD-HKG seasonal A380's. 

But SYD/MEL-DXB/LHR is 5 x A380's

SYD-LAX - 2 x A30's

MEL-LAX- 2 x A380's

SYD- DFW- 2 x A380's (assuming daily).

1 A380 in MNL for maintenance for most of the year.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

I'm thinking the "missing" A380 from the US routes comes down to the flight times. With the long layovers in the US (~7 hours at DFW, ~15 hours at LAX), the round trip times per aircraft (~40 hours for DFW, ~45 for SYD-LAX and ~46 for MEL-LAX) tips it over to needing just over 2 aircraft per route for daily, so they need that "day off" on one route to make up the time and keep the timetables from slipping each day.

If just one flight returned from the US 2 or 3 hours earlier, there wouldn't be a problem.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

A bit of for the AA SYD-LAX operating so closely to QF11? Can't AA move that service to around the afternoon?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Probably slot-constrained at LAX.

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 229

They could have just replaced QF17/18 with the AA flight and used that landing slot. Chris makes a pretty compelling case for retaining that timing in the schedule.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

Runway slots aren't the issue for AA at LAX. Gate space is.

They also want more connection options for the AA flights. I could see them moving to an ~10am LAX arrival, but I don't see AA wanting an ~2pm LAX arrival.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 304

The funny thing is that Melbourne business class passengers will actually experience a downgrade in hard product by the swap to the 747/Skybed M2 vs A330/Business Suite

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Thats a good point! The 747 is quite nostalgic though - people will seek it out.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

So QF will be using 1 747 for both SYD-SFO and MEL-HKG flights? Or will that 1 747 be operating both the MEL-HKG and MEL-LAX (747) flights?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

It's not the one aircraft in a literal sense, it's referring to the utilisation of said 747. That would rotate through various routes in line with maintenance and deployment requirements. 

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

Who knows, planes move and position all the time.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

The amount of aircraft needed to run a route comes down to the length of the flight, turn around time and if the aircraft sits around doing nothing.

eg, SYD-TYO is around a 9 hour flight. 1 aircraft could fly north to Tokyo, spend 2 hours on the ground unloading/reloading and be back in SYD in around 21 hours - thus only needing 1 aircraft for a daily flight. QF however leaves the aircraft sitting in Tokyo all day, so that the total trip time for the current SYD-HND return flight is closer to 36 hours, thus requiring 2 aircraft for a daily flight.

Combining routes together which the aircraft operate in turn can reduce the amount of aircraft required. eg AU-LHR takes takes 21 hours each way. Add in turn around times at each end, and it needs 3 aircraft to operate daily. Combining the routes so that the aircraft operates SYD-LHR-MEL-LHR-SYD allows them to reduce the requirement of 6 aircraft for both routes to 5 (which has lead to delays during this year due to the very short turn around times at MEL).

This change would allow QF to rotate 747s from MEL to SYD so that an aircraft might run MEL-LAX-MEL-HKG-SYD-HND-SYD-HKG-MEL-LAX across a week.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 286

More consistency for the travellers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

Going to miss sitting on the incredibly private-feeling upper deck on my sojourns to LAX!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

What routes could the A330s be deployed new or current routes?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

Depends. The 332 can do AKL-LAX (so PER-DXB).

I'm guessing HKG.

QF has a request in for 3 extra flights to HKG (28/week up from the current 25)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

HKG would be my guess... Manilla second. Another China destination third.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 159

AA use T4 in LAX. Qantas use Tom Bradley and the 747 flights operate from remote gates and are bused to Bradley. You often see 2-3 Qantas in the ground at LAX parked through the day. 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

AA has rights to 4 gates at TBIT and they can use them for any flight they want.

QF flights are not bussed at LAX (unless something has gone very wrong). QF refuses to allow LAWA to give them a bus gate. QF aircraft park at TBIT and after unloading are towed over to spend the day near the hangers before being towed back to TBIT in the evening for the return flights to Australia.

Some morning AA international arrivals are bused to TBIT in order to use the CBP FIS as the T4 CBP area was closed.

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 1

Flew on QF17 in Y recently, it was excellent. So good to be able to land at LAX in the afternoon and make easy connections for the evening before a decent sleep. Did have to get bussed though from one of those remote gates. Bloody marys and a nice shower in Admirals lounge eased the pain.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1245

Qantas use gates at TBIT. No bussing. 

You would see at least 2 planes most days as QF does maintenance there.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 957

Agreed. QF would rather have aircraft on the ramp at TBIT waiting for a gate then use a hard stand and buses. The only time you'll see a QF flight using buses and hard stands at LAX is if something has gone wrong with airport operations.

Back when the new TBIT was being planned and QF was looking at sending the 380 there back in 2007/2008, they all but forced LAWA to put in 380 gates in phase 1 because they didn't want to use buses and threatened LAWA that they'd cut flights to LAX and send them to SFO instead if they didn't get those A380 gates.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 149

Re QF11 & A380 vs 747.

I'm flying QF11 TUES 6 FEB, just booked. Is QF still running the 747 on Tuesday's? Looked likes it on the booking. Any confirmation would be appreciated.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas axes daily Boeing 747 Sydney-Los Angeles flights