Qantas is increasing its focus on the USA in what CEO Alan Joyce describes as a vote of confidence in both the stateside travel market and the airline itself.
“We see North America as a real growth opportunity” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, speaking at the send-off of the airline’s first Airbus A380 from Sydney to Dallas.
“This a vote of confidence in the future of this route today, this is a vote of confidence in our operations to North America and this is a vote of confidence in Qantas’s international operations going forward,’’ Joyce said, adding that he sees this as proof that Qantas “is turning the corner.”
Joyce cited the decision to upgrade Sydney-Dallas from a Boeing 747 to a superjumbo as reflecting the popularity of the route, which began with four flights a week in May 2011 before shifting to daily in July 2012.
With 484 seats across four classes, the double-deck A380 carries 120 more passengers than the Boeing 747-400 that it replaces.
The A380 also introduces first class onto the Sydney-Dallas route, which Qantas believers will prove popular with business travellers.
“We think this is first class market as well and first class will sell very effectively on it,’’ Joyce said.
“The feedback from our corporate customers, especially those in the resources, technology and agricultural sectors, tells us they like flying into the Dallas hub because it gets them closer to their final destination in the US and offers great onward connections”.
Joyce also hinted that the airline’s ‘trial’ of Sydney-Vancouver flights slated for January 2015 could continue throughout the year.
“Sales have been extremely good, and we are very confident this will be very successful” he told Australian Business Traveller.
The Vancouver service is part of a shift in Qantas’ approach to schedules which places greater emphasis on bringing on flights during high seasons, when demand is greatest and fares can be priced accordingly.
Qantas will add 11 return flights onto Melbourne-Los Angeles between 17 December 2014 and 18 January 2015, ahead of boosting its Melbourne-Los Angeles schedule from daily to ten flights per week from 21 January 2015.
However, sometimes the seasons can work against Qantas.
Joyce confirmed that the return A380 leg from Dallas, while now skipping the Brisbane stopover to fly direct to Sydney, will carry fewer passengers during some months of the year due to strong headwinds which make for a longer flight with higher fuel consumption.
"There are restrictions at certain times of the year when the headwinds have been very strong, like on the 747."
Australian Business Traveller understands that Qantas will sell 80 fewer economy seats on the A380 on those flights, although this is still shy of the 100 seats blocked on the westbound Boeing 747 flights.
Qantas is not without challengers on the trans-Pacific route.
United Airlines will launch a direct Melbourne-Los Angeles service on the jetlag-busting Boeing 787 Dreamliner on October 28, with inflight Internet to while away the hours.
United earlier this year upgraded its Sydney flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco from older and less-reliable Boeing 747s to Boeing 777 jets.
While Virgin Australia will abandon its thrice-weekly Melbourne-Los Angeles flights from October 25, the airline will boost Brisbane-Los Angeles to a daily service.
2014 marks Qantas’ 60th year of services to the US, which started in May 1954 with Super Constellation flights between Sydney and San Francisco.
David Flynn travelled to Dallas/Forth Worth as a guest of Qantas
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT