Qantas will launch direct flights from Brisbane to Chicago and San Francisco by the end of April 2020 once it gets final US government approval for its joint business with American Airlines.
This announcement comes after the US Department of Transportation (DoT) granted “tentative approval” to the proposed joint-venture partnership between the two airlines earlier this month.
The Australian flag carrier will fly directly for the first time to Chicago, the third largest city in the US. As one of the major domestic hubs of American Airlines, Chicago will give Qantas access to 30 additional unique one-stop destinations from Australia. Passengers flying with Qantas can also connect to more than 200 onward destinations from Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
The four-times-weekly service is expected to be the fourth longest passenger flight in the world and the second longest in Qantas’ network, with a flight time of around 16 hours and 20 minutes. The direct service from Brisbane is estimated to save more than six hours of time currently needed for a return trip.
Meanwhile, Qantas will fly from Brisbane to San Francisco three times a week. This makes Brisbane the third Australian city with direct flights to the Bay Area city, after Sydney and Melbourne. The estimated flight time will be 12 hours and 40 minutes. Qantas now operates daily Sydney-San Francisco services, and flies four times a week from Melbourne directly to San Francisco.
The new routes will see 14 weekly services between Brisbane and the US, including the daily Brisbane-New York service with a stopover at Los Angeles. In response to the increasing flights departing from Brisbane, Qantas has recently expanded its International Brisbane Lounge by 25 per cent.
Both new routes will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. A Qantas spokesperson confirms to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that the seating configuration will be 42 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration, 28 in premium economy class in a 2-3-2 configuration, and 166 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
On a separate note, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will also be deployed on the carrier’s Sydney-San Francisco service beginning on December 4 this year, as the airline is looking to replace its remaining 747s with the new 787-9s. On the other hand, its Melbourne-San Francisco route has been operated by the 787s since it was launched in 2018.
Commenting on the launch of new routes between Brisbane and the two US cities, Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, said: “These new services will connect both Australian business travellers and holidaymakers with key centres of commerce, industry and culture in the United States.”
Meanwhile, Qantas has also confirmed that one of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft to be delivered later this year will be named Longreach, the name of a town in Central West Queensland, “as a tribute to the airline’s Queensland roots”.
“As we count down to our centenary and retire our extended range 747 aircraft, which all feature the iconic Longreach name, we’re proud to continue its legacy on one of our new 787s. Queensland is a pivotal part of our history and an important part of our identity,” said Joyce.