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Qantas boosts Honolulu flights, upgrades route to Airbus A330s

By Chris Chamberlin     Filed under: qantas, Sydney Airport, Honolulu

Qantas is boosting its Sydney-Honolulu route from later this year with the introduction of an extra weekly flight and a permanent upgrade to newer Airbus A330 aircraft from the ageing Boeing 767s.

QF3/4 goes A330-only from September 14, providing travellers with a seatback in-flight entertainment screen as opposed to the iPads used with the Boeing 767's wireless Q Streaming system.

From December 20 2014, Saturday flights will also permanently join the Hawaiian roster, made possible by the transfer of one of Jetstar's Airbus A330s to the Qantas fleet.

"Hawaii is an exceptionally popular destination for our frequent flyers and premium leisure customers," said Stephen Thompson, Qantas' Executive Manager Global Sales and Offshore Operations.

During peak travel periods, such as school holidays and the Easter break where leisure demand is at its highest, the Red Roo will also add a fifth weekly Honolulu flight.

The A330 brings with it angled lie-flat Skybed seats in business class, replacing the Boeing 767's recliners – and with the promise of better things to come.

Qantas will eventually be ditching the A330’s ‘sloping sleepers’ with its impressive new lie-flat Business Suite, pictured below.

That said, with the first of these reconfigured birds not due until the end of this year and the fleet-wide upgrade process carrying on until mid-2016, consistency won't be a strong point on the A330 routes until the seat upgrades are completed.

Wheels up from Sydney at 7:40pm, QF3 touches down in Honolulu at 9:25am on the same day.

On the return, QF4 pushes back at 10:55am, reaching Sydney at 5:35pm the following evening.

The change is part of an early retirement program for Qantas' Boeing 767 fleet, and follows other seasonal adjustments to the Flying Kangaroo's network.

These include seasonal services between Perth and Auckland, increased flights to Santiago over the Australian summer and more Airbus A380s on high-demand Hong Kong flights.

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About Chris Chamberlin

Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 4/3/14 by RK

Finally! This is great news and long overdue.

2 on 4/3/14 by Jason

Laugh... I was just saying this would happen in response to a comment on here about "wishing Qantas would fly the B787 to Honolulu".

Who knew I had telepathetic powers ;-p

1 on 4/3/14 by watson374

It's probably the PER-SIN-PER aircraft, too.

1 on 4/3/14 by Jason

The tea leaves aren't so clear on that front...

2 on 4/3/14 by Fonga

We've all harped on  the Per-Sin loss, but even if they could replace it with a 738.

1 on 4/3/14 by watson374

Oh, I'd love to see that.

3 on 4/3/14 by Dubya

Finally a propper option on this route to Jetstar and the dreadful Hawaiian Airlines. Those HA seats are so hard you'll get back spasms in 3 hours and that breakfast burrito- just horrible.

1 on 4/3/14 by eminere

Finally indeed!  Are there even any comfortable ways of getting from SYD to HNL currently?

1 on 8/8/14 by Hugo

Well, Cunard has a few options but they don't come around all that often.

2 on 11/8/14 by abudhabi1

Not That I am aware of.I did this route Economy Class Qantas on a 747-200 going to Canada in 1989 though changing planes in HONOLULU for the final sector to Vancouver.Not too unpleasant but you really cannot compare them.

2 on 23/8/14 by Harrison133

I have flown HA from SYD-HNL return and they were far from 'dreadful.'  The seats were fine for a 10 hour flight.  The food was good, in-flight entertainment good and the staff were absolutely fantastic.

Great news for QF and it's customers.  Hawaii is a fantastic place and A330's are a great fit for the route.

4 on 4/3/14 by Phil

Finally this route gets a decent plane and proper business class, this route has always been short changed.  I remember flying the 747 SP on this route a few times. preferred that over the 767 though. 

1 on 9/7/14 by icanfly

Does anyone know when the 747 SP's were flying to HNL?

I flew there in 1994 on a 747 but too young to know if it was -300 or an SP. From what I read around that time the 747SP's were doing the Taipei legs anyhow so perhaps I was on a -300

5 on 4/3/14 by AusFlyer

Consistency is never really a Qantas strong point, but it is finally good to see some positive news coming from them!

6 on 4/3/14 by sagidec

What a waste of B767 refurbishment investment! Shouldn't have done it in the first place with all that iPad stuff but retire those old fleets instead.

Should have focused the refurb on the A330s. What were they thinking since they already knew they were retiring the B767s before the refurbishment program?

1 on 4/3/14 by watson374

I'm reasonably confident that the Dreamtime seat VH-OG* 763s were not slated for Q Streaming, nor were the ex-BA Millennium seat VH-ZX* 763s; only the (relatively) newer Millennium seat VH-OG* 763s used on Cityflyer have the Q Streaming.

But I agree that refurbishment of the A330s is a pressing issue, and one that should have taken precedence. However, it's worth noting that the A330 refurbishment is a big job, especially when you think about stripping out all thirty of the blessed things.

2 on 4/3/14 by Peter

Yes, they knew that the A330s would be returned from Jetstar so the 767 refurbishments were a stopgap measure in order to more effectively compete against Virgin's A330 coast-to-coast product.

1 on 4/3/14 by watson374

I'm reasonably confident they're actually primarily a Golden Triangle sledgehammer, given that VA has no widebody service on the Triangle.

2 on 4/3/14 by moa999

Agreed the 767 refurb was a cheap stopgap... I actually don't think QF changed the retirement plan much anyway....

I suspect the iPads may get reinstalled on the older 737s as well (the oldest 738s are 12-years old)  which will mean QF has provided AVOD versus VA with BYO.

1 on 4/3/14 by Noob

Personally, I would prefer the greater amount of content on VAs Wireless Entertainment and just use my own ipad - QStreaming doesn't appear to have anywhere near as much content. 

So excited to try the new QF Business Suites - They look amazing and will do wonders in reinstating QF as one of the world's best. The team at QF working on this have really gone over and above. 

7 on 4/3/14 by driley28

Been waiting for this! I have been wanting to go to HNL for a while, but I refuse to go on a dodgy B767.  2015 here we come!

8 on 4/3/14 by jrfsp

will it be a 200 or 300 series? or a mix of both?

1 on 4/3/14 by Chris

Flights are still showing as Boeing 767-300s in the booking engine, so we're not sure whether it'll be a -200 or -300 at this stage (or a mix of both).

The Qantas documents had only "Airbus A330" when mentioning the route, so we'll all have to wait and see!

1 on 4/3/14 by watson374

Probably a -200, given a -300 might be a bit big. I'm not too sure about the Skybed I, though - there are only four -200s with that seat.

We'll have to see. The A330 announcement I'm waiting for is more along the lines of, 'A330 refurbishment has been brought forward'.

9 on 4/3/14 by tonywills

Something everyone is missing about the return of the A330's to QF from JQ and the retirement of the 767 fleet. If you have been to Sydney airport in the last decade you should have noticed usually about 5 or 6 767's parked at gates with only metres between wingtips. Unless QF comes up with an ingeniuos plan, where are they going to park all of the A330's for the triangle routes and Perth. The A330 wingspan is significantly wider. May get very squashed so to speak - I guess they could always stagger A330 with 737-800 - not an easy task. I wonder also if the JQ A330's (many of which were once QF) will retain the black leather seating and Business class from JQ - that will throw the whole upgrade of the entire A330 fleet promise from QF  into chaos - back to the luck of the draw when you board your A330 flight.

1 on 7/7/14 by brinkers

I think you will find that there will be less widebody flights on the triangle. Expect more 737s....

10 on 4/3/14 by NZFlyer

Remember flying SYD-HNL and onto YVR on QF 747 back in 2000

1 on 5/3/14 by gwilli1

They never should have cancelled the YVR flight 

1 on 5/3/14 by watson374

Did it make money?

1 on 5/3/14 by Himeno

It was one of the first routes to go. YVR was a tag on the SFO QF73/74 for a while before going to seasonal and then getting dumped ~2008.

2 on 6/3/14 by alatar144

With Canada only allowing stopovers in Fiji, Honolulu, Tahiti and San Francisco for Australian carriers, it was either go non-stop (a loooooong flight competing with Air Canada); not serve Canada or fly what would likely be unprofitable flying through cities/countries without a significant hubbing power or alliance partners. If they could fly through Los Angeles and connect their Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney flights to it, it could perhaps work. But Canada is adamant in it's refusal to allow that to happen.

1 on 8/3/14 by Anjan

Not sure why QF could not extend this servicce to SFO or San Jose to cater to the Sillicon Valley crowd...have an immediate turn around rather than sit on the tarmac and return via HNL. I am sure there are a lot of Non United fan who would consider a HNL transit over LAX..

2 on 26/3/14 by abudhabi1

Did this flight way back at the end of 1989 to Vancouver using the old 747-200's returning a Month later in January 1990 on a school cultural exchange.Wasn't too bad but compared to what they are doing now on the A330's rather old hat.I know you can't compare them but anything is better than a 767.The Oldest of them was about 5 to 7 years younger than the now long gone A300'S which were retired in 1998.

11 on 4/3/14 by PLATY

Yes the switch over from 767 to A330 is long overdue. Yes it's great when it happens.

However, all we have to go on is an aspirational statement! There is no apparent date - the switch could be a year away!

Just like the rest of Joyce's plan - all talk and no action.

Announce, re-announce, and re-announce the same stuff over and over again. A trickle of idle thought bubbles bobbing in the breese, most popping to nothing from empty centres...

1 on 5/3/14 by hutch

The switch is probably a while away... QF is putting on extra HNL services in Sep/Oct holidays using 767. So that indicates November earliest swap over date.

2 on 5/3/14 by eminere

Guess we'll believe it when we see it, huh

12 on 5/3/14 by skyhawk

Much better offering than NZ and HA recliners to Oceania. QF gone from least competitive to most competitive

1 on 7/3/14 by PLATY

Not always, perhaps - there are periods when Air NZ runs a 777 to HNL - their business product has been ranked higher than QF by AusBT.

13 on 6/3/14 by Performa

Again Followers NOT Leaders!!!!!

1 on 7/7/14 by Michael

Actually in this case they are very much the leaders of the pack. The Australia to Hawaii market is controlled by Jetstar (A330), Hawaiian Air (A330 & B767) and Qantas (767 -> A330). 

Qantas will be introducing a business cabin with lie flat beds and superb service, this move will certainly shake up the Hawaiian market, given the fact that at this point in time "business" to Hawaii is no more than a large recliner. Hawaiian Air will have to pick up their game, improving service and upgrading cabins to keep up with Qantas.

1 on 8/7/14 by TheRealBabushka


Your claim that Qantas are "leaders of the pack" is based entirely on the premise that Qantas will have a new A330 product. Is that accurate?

Here are some facts:

  • The new Qantas A330 product has not rolled yet. Are you assuming Qantas will keep the A330 on the SYD/HNL sectors when the new product is rolled out? How accurate is that assumption? Who is to say that Qantas will not re-jig their fleet once the new A330 product is rolled out and deny the A330 for HNL?
  • The current A330 product is archaic by international standards. It pales in comparison to SQ, CX and even MH's hard product. The PTV in Economy is a disgrace. The entertainment in Business is laughable in this day and age. The only redeeming factor of QF's current A330-300 product is the angled-flat bed seats in Business. 
  • The Qantas A330-200 product is not materially different from Jetstar's A330 product, both in Business and Economy. Hardly leaders of the pack when your benchmark is a low cost carrier!
  • The true leaders of the pack to HNL from this part of the world is Air NZ. The term 'upgraded" in this article is a poor choice of words at best or down right misleading. I suggest instead " Qantas upgrades Honolulu route for the Business cabin" to ensure it is factually accurate.

1 on 8/7/14 by undertheradar

you say QF may 'deny' the HNL route the A330...what other aircraft will they use? (as the  last 767 will be retired around March2015)

SQ,CX,MH,and many other airlines out there still fly aircraft with 'archaic' products/entertainment..(some even still have 'looped based' systems...OMG!!!)

4 A330-200s have skybed configs..which are used on international sectors

Some do see an A330 as an updrade from the 767..albeit with the smaller screens for has much better cabins/toliets/galleys/overhead luggage space and younger age.

spose it's all relative.


1 on 8/7/14 by TheRealBabushka

Agreed to an extent it is relative.

Noted the retirement of the 767. But I cannot imagine QF would retrofit the entire A330 fleet in one fell swoop. HNL is lower in their pecking order than SIN, HKG, PVG and even CGK. I will not be surprised if the aircraft for HNL is one of the last to be refurbished, if at all.

The loop based system you're referring to might be on CX's old A330, although I believe their regional A330 are now upgraded? SQ's A330 are state of the art and MH's A330 is on par. But I'm happy to be proven wrong on that front.

I rather like the refurbished QF 767. I'd take the iPad any day. Better content and screen resolution. Sure the overhead compartments are shite, but as far as overall comfort in Economy the refurbished 767 is more superior.

The only reason why I fly QF economy to SIN is because of the spanking lounge in SIN and access to the QF F lounges. Once airborn I take my book out, ignore the meal service and entertainment and hope the CSM would squirrel away some cheese and crackers from Business for me mid-flight. Otherwise my packed snacks of crips and biscuits would keep me sufficiently satiated.

1 on 8/7/14 by undertheradar

ALL the 330s (200 and 300) will be getting the your "if at all" comment doesn't apply..the timetable for the refurbs is out just gotta do some research...

re: 'archaic' never mentioned the a330 exclusively. i was just pointing out that many other airlines fly 'less desirable' products throughout their mid/longhaul routes/fleets .including 747/777/a330


2 on 8/7/14 by abudhabi1

That's True about Air NZ.The only downside with them going over is the overnight in Auckland but for the most part you can get a straight through connecting back to Australia.For Adelaide You connect onto the last NZ AKL TO MEL and then onto Virgin for MEL-ADL if not keen on spending the night on the way home in New Zealand as well.I think Perth is straight through both ways.Anything has to be better than the bus domestic to international terminals at Sydney if coming from the two places I have mentioned or Melbourne for that matter.

3 on 12/7/14 by Longreach

This part of the world is Australia, not New Zealand. Does Air NZ fly from anywhere in Australia direct to HNL?

1 on 13/7/14 by TheRealBabushka

No it doesn't. I believe it's via AKL. But if you have to fly via SYD anyway on QF, the issue of direct flights is a moot point.

14 on 8/7/14 by qantasislife

Yay finally. I booked flight for Hawaii for the 14 September and now its operating that serivce instead of the run down 767. Finally there upgrading this serivce.

15 on 8/7/14 by riskman

Too little too late in my opinion.  Flew the 767 to HNL 2 years ago and swore off it. Impossible to get award seats as well on this route.   Have been back twice since with family, but at least have done it in First on United 747 using lifemiles

16 on 11/7/14 by gary r

and i remember the B707 that flew LHR - JFK - SFO - HNL - NAN - SYD

and they had another route LHR - MEX - PPT - NAN - SYD i believe.

the SFO - HNL -SYD route carried a whipped out load of aussies who had come in from LHR -- don't know how they did it!?!?!?!  BUT great service and meals.




17 on 8/8/14 by tonedoggy99

FInally we have a date! this is good news.

18 on 8/8/14 by AusFlyer

Wow... Is that more positive news coming out of Qantas? They are on a roll! 


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