Qantas this week introduces a brand-new 787-9 Dreamliner on its Los Angeles-Melbourne route, and now the Australian airline says it will bring the Dreamliner to San Francisco as well.
The airline doesn’t have a firm start-up date yet, but said it expects to begin new San Francisco-Melbourne flights with the 787-9 Dreamliner in “late 2018.” Seats should go on sale early in the New Year. There is currently no non-stop service in the SFO-MEL market.
Initially operating six days a week on the LAX-Melbourne route, the 14-hour 787-9 flights will complement Qantas’ existing daily A380 service, a spokesperson said– which means it will fly SFO Melbourne a few days a week, and LAX-Melbourne a few days a week.
Why split the route up like that? My best guess is that the LAX-Melbourne flights have not been selling as well as hoped, so Qantas will try and beef up revenues by adding SFO legs.
Here’s our preview of the new Qantas aircraft, which will have 42 business class seats configured 1-2-1; 28 in premium economy, with a 2-3-2 layout; and 166 in economy, configured 3-3-3 and offering 32-inch pitch.
The San Francisco schedule is still undetermined. “Capacity between the U.S. and Melbourne will be rebalanced to match demand from the two California cities, meaning that the Dreamliner will fly from Los Angeles some days of the week and San Francisco other days,” the spokesperson said.
Qantas CEO Alison Webster said in Melbourne this week that the company is seeing “strong demand” for San Francisco-Melbourne service, “both from a tourism perspective and because of the business links between Silicon Valley and Melbourne. As well, a significant number of our Melbourne passengers flying to Los Angeles already connect on to San Francisco.”
Qantas’ only current San Francisco service is a 747-400 non-stop to Sydney, a route also flown by United.
The LAX-Melbourne route is being operated with the airline’s first newly delivered 787-9. The second will go into service in March, providing the first non-stop flights between Australia and Europe on a Melbourne-Perth-London routing. The airline expects to take delivery of eight 787-9s by the end of 2018, with four based in Melbourne and four in Brisbane.