Qantas To Fly Nonstop From Australia To Chicago | One Mile at a Time


Earlier I wrote about how the joint venture between American & Qantas was conditionally approved today. This is something that the two airlines have been hoping to get approved for years now, so the fact that this finally came through is big news.

However, in order to justify this joint venture, they had to prove to the Department of Transportation that this would be in the best interest of consumers. As part of that, American and Qantas said that they’d launch up to three additional new routes between Australia and the US in the next two years, in addition to increasing capacity on existing routes.

While these routes have been rumored for quite a while, Qantas has now confirmed what they will be.

Qantas will launch nonstop flights from Brisbane to both Chicago and San Francisco in the next two years. They say they’ll do this once they’re given final approval from the DOT for the joint venture.

Qantas’ 787-9 business class

These two flights are pretty significant:


  • Qantas already flies from Melbourne and Sydney to San Francisco, so adding a third destination from the Bay Area is impressive; San Francisco is a huge market, and on top of that Qantas has a partnership with Alaska, which provides them feed to & from SFO
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  • A Brisbane to Chicago flight would cover a distance of nearly 9,000 miles, and would be just about 100 miles shorter than Qantas’ Perth to London flight; this would be the world’s fourth longest flight

Both of these routes would be operated by 787s. Qantas currently has eight 787-9s in their fleet, with a further six to be delivered in the next couple of years. Presumably they’d need a couple of additional 787s to launch either of those routes, unless they shuffle around their current network.

You might be wondering why Qantas would operate their Chicago flight from Brisbane rather than Sydney. Well, the flight to Sydney would be about 330 miles longer, and at ~9,230 miles, that’s a stretch for the 787-9, especially with the headwinds we often see across the Pacific.

As far as additional routes go, in the past Qantas has talked about launching nonstop flights to Seattle. While that hasn’t been mentioned this time around, I imagine it’s something that’s on their radar.

Qantas’ 787-9 premium economy

Bottom line

While I’m generally against the expansion of joint ventures – especially in markets where there’s already not enough competition – we may see some good new routes and capacity increases come from this.

The question is whether Qantas would have launched these routes otherwise. There’s no denying that both American and Qantas have intentionally scaled back transpacific flights in order to make a compelling case to the DOT, so even if they saw a business case for either of these routes without a joint venture, they absolutely would have waited.

What do you make of Qantas launching Brisbane to Chicago & San Francisco flights?