News

Delta to serve Australia

19 Dec 2008 by Tom Otley

Services will operate daily from Los Angeles and be operated by two-class (business and economy) long-range B777-200s. The craft will be fitted with the US carrier’s latest seating including fully flat-bed seating in business class featuring the herringbone layout.

Flight DL17 will commence on July 1 departing from Los Angeles at 2240 to arrive in Sydney (after crossing the international date line) at 0640 two days later.

Return flight DL16 will depart on July 3 at 0915 from Sydney to reach Los Angeles at 0600 the same day.

It’s good news for Skyteam fans because this alliance is not well represented Down Under in comparison to Oneworld and Star. It’s also good news for travellers who book RTW (round-the-world) tickets via Australasia.  At present no Skyteam member offers a transpacific link between Australasia and North America.

But Delta will find the competition tough.  With non-stop flight times of over 14 hours between Los Angeles to Sydney, over 13 hours on the return and a distance of 7,500 miles this is one of the longest non-stop sectors in the world.  

Many of the passengers are travelling for leisure reasons so yields (earnings) per seat can be relatively low. In the past two other US carriers, American and Continental, both served Sydney from Los Angeles but both failed to make a profit and had to withdraw.

The route is currently flown by Qantas (a Oneworld member) and United (a Star member) and both are well entrenched in the marketplace.

United is currently reconfiguring its B747-400s (the craft it uses on the transpacific) with new seating while Qantas (which also uses B747-400s) is now drafting in factory-fresh A380s. Initially Qantas is operating the super jumbo three times a week but this could be stepped up to six a week by the summer.  Unlike Delta, both these carriers will offer a first class product with Qantas also providing premium economy.

But that’s not all. Value for money carrier Virgin Australia will also enter the route early next year. By late March it expects to be operating a daily service with B777-300ERs in a three class layout (business, premium economy and economy).

So with the addition of many more seats there is certain to be overcapacity from next summer. Good news for passengers (because fares will tumble) but not such good news for the airlines concerned.

For more information go to, delta.com, united.com, qantas.com, vaustralia.com.

Report by Alex McWhirter

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