Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at the announcement of the direct Chicago flights, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says there are potentially more US destinations to come.
“When we’ll start off, Brisbane-Chicago is four flights a week, and Brisbane-San Francisco is three flights a week. We’ll want to get to daily flights as fast as we can, and that will be our first priority,” says Joyce.
“We’re also very keen on other destinations in the US, and as we have more Boeing 787s coming, as we show that these (existing) routes make sense, we’ll be looking to further growth."
Seattle was widely considered as a Plan B should the US Department of Transport not agree to Qantas' proposed joint venture with American Airlines – a partnership now tentatively approved and awaiting the formality of a rubber stamp – and would see Qantas deepen its relationship with Alaska Airlines.
As home to technology giants such as Microsoft and Amazon plus 'satellite' offices of Silicon Valley-based companies like Google and Facebook, along with a wide range of start-ups, Seattle's tech cred is an obvious drawcard and comes second only to San Francisco as the USA's top tech market.
However, Seattle is also a refreshingly different US city with plenty of appeal in its own right; serves as a gateway to Canada via Vancouver; and anchors a sizeable cruise market into Alaska and tours through the Canadian Rockies, with several cruising and travel companies already booking blocks of seats on Air Canada flights between Australia and Vancouver.
As to why Chicago and San Francisco won over the likes of Seattle or Dallas/Fort Worth, Joyce explains: “We did a real review of all of the potential routes we could do (out of Brisbane) with American Airlines, and our partner Alaska Airlines.”
“We did the maths, we did the numbers on it, and we felt that Chicago and San Francisco are the two best routes for us.”