Qantas will cease direct flights between Australia and San Francisco next week but SFO airport isn't ruling out a return at some stage.
"Unlike other highly-congested airports we have no restrictions on landing slots" Mike McCarron, Director of Community Affairs for San Francisco International, told Australian Business Traveller, adding that "we would warmly welcome back Qantas in the future."
While it's unlikely that the Red Roo itself will restore its Sydney-San Francisco flights any time soon, having axed the service in favour of feeding passengers into the Dallas Forth Worth hub of partner American Airlines, there's a possibility that Qantas subsidiary Jetstar could adopt the route.
Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan has admitted that North America "has always been in our plan” but that “a lot of it will depend on fleet deliveries -- we are planning to use the (Boeing) 787 for some of those routes and because of the delay in the 787, we are focusing more on the Asian growth opportunities."
However, with Fiji’s national airline Air Pacific reportedly cancelling its orders for five Boeing 787 aircraft slated for delivery in 2011, Boeing may be able to move other customers such as Jetstar up the list.
This could allow Jetstar to expand its international network earlier than expected, and we’d hazard a guess that San Francisco would be a more suitable destination for Jetstar’s 787 Dreamliners while Qantas continues to bring passengers en masse into LAX on the Airbus A380.
Qantas spokesman Tom Woodward told Australian Business Traveller that the popular Sydney-San Francisco service “has not been a failure from a route perspective, but from a strategic growth perspective for Qantas, DFW is the better plan for the future.”
“It's pretty much just a commercial decision to provide us with better and more direct access to the American Airlines network in the US.”
And while Jetstar waits for the 787 Dreamliner, V Australia could beat Jetstar to the punch if its proposed alliance with Delta gets the nod from the US Department of Transportation, using a similar dual carrier approach to service both San Francisco (V Australia) and Los Angeles (Delta).
San Francisco's SFO airport also makes sense for V Australia because it’s the headquarters and hub for V Australia's sister airline Virgin America.
There’s even the possibility that newcomer Strategic Airlines could begin services to San Francisco, once again taking advantage of the fact that SFO has ample capacity for growth – and an existing market about to be abandoned by Qantas – compared to LAX.