Qantas to launch non-stop Chicago flights

Qantas to launch non-stop Chicago flights

UPDATE [June 17 2019] | Qantas will launch non-stop Brisbane-Chicago flights in April 2020, along with Brisbane-San Francisco flights from the same month. See our report for more details.

PREVIOUS | Qantas says it expects to begin non-stop flights to Chicago following US approval for its joint venture with American Airlines.

The new trans-Pacific route would spear between Brisbane and Chicago on one of Qantas' new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Also on the cards "once final approval is received" is a direct Brisbane-San Francisco Dreamliner flight, which would complement Qantas' current SF services from Sydney and Melbourne.

"Qantas and American flagged an intention to launch several new routes within the first two years of the proposed joint business," Qantas said in response to tentative JV approval issued overnight by the US Department of Transport.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has already given its tick to the trans-Pacific partnership, which would allow Qantas and American Airlines to closely co-ordinate on pricing, schedules, sales and frequent flyer programs under the shield of anti-trust immunity.

The DoT said the airlines planned to launch "up to three new routes" within the first two years while also increasing capacity on existing routes.

Qantas has previously promised that extended codesharing with American Airlines would "open more connections to more destinations," with "a wider range of fare classes across each other’s networks, including lower fares and discounts."

It has also flagged a higher earning rate of Qantas Points on American Airlines flights "beyond what is possible today through Oneworld, as well as increased redemption opportunities and improved reciprocal end-to-end recognition of our top-tier frequent flyers."

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said new non-stop routes which Qantas could open up under the joint business agreement with Oneworld member American Airlines included Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights from Brisbane to Chicago, Seattle and Dallas.

“We have a number of different, very good routes and plans for a very good expansion into the US when it is approved."

Joyce has repeatedly cited direct flights to Chicago as first fruit of any American Airlines JV, although he has been somewhat pipped to the post by Air New Zealand's Auckland-Chicago flights which began in December 2018.

In addition to being an attractive destination in its own right Chicago also serves as a gateway to the mid-West and a hub for American Airlines, with over 500 daily departures, including a shuttle service to New York with 15 flights running every half-hour on weekdays.

"Chicago is a big American Airlines hub and you do need a partnership to make it effective, we've shown clearly how that happens in Dallas," Joyce told Australian Business Traveller in August 2018.

However, Seattle has also been waiting in the wings. 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.

Seattle is also a refreshingly different US city with plenty of appeal in its own right; offers 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.

One way or the other, Joyce said, "We've made it fairly clear that we are ambitious to grow North American with more destinations."

Between them, Qantas and American Airlines control an estimated 60% of traffic between between Australia and the US; the pair would go up against the partnership between Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines, as well as United Airlines.

Qantas will take delivery of six new Boeing 787-9 jets from late 2019 through to late 2020, bringing the total red-tailed Dreamliner fleet to 14 in number.

Paris has long been considered a starter for this second tranche of Boeing 787s, with Frankfurt potentially following, but Joyce has put those plans on ice due to the airline’s ongoing disputes with Perth Airport, which would anchor the Australian end of the new European routes.

The companies are currently in disagreement over airport usage charges as well as which international terminal Qantas can use in Perth for its expanding network of international flights – a stoush that already cost the city a non-stop Qantas flight from Perth to Johannesburg.

Read more: Qantas hits pause on planned non-stop flights to Paris

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

54 comments

  • Paul Reynolds

    Sydney787

    4 Jun, 2019 04:10 am

    Melbourne to DFW would be a good start by an AA 787-9.
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  • David Ferguson

    Flashman181

    4 Jun, 2019 05:51 am

    Been hanging out for this for Brisvegas and love Chicago
    No member give thanks

  • Tom Wilson

    tommygun

    4 Jun, 2019 08:24 am

    The three main AA hubs are DFW, LAX and ORD. Only one of those is not yet served by Qantas...
    No member give thanks

  • Graeme Sharman

    GovMan

    4 Jun, 2019 09:28 am

    Charlotte (CLT)?
    No member give thanks

  • Dmitry Abramov

    dimi

    4 Jun, 2019 06:02 pm

    Not sure why Charlotte would be voted down.
    Charlotte, Miami, NYC, Philadelphia and Washington are equally AA hubs (and Charlotte is probably a more important one than LAX).
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 08:29 am

    Travelling to Detroit from Canberra late October: too soon for the Brisbane Chicago flight but it would be great for a two stop rather than the three stops they offer coming back.
    No member give thanks

  • Dave

    Grannular

    4 Jun, 2019 10:52 am

    Detroit to DFW to Sydney to Canberra is two stops. I just did a quick search and coming up with plenty of flight combinations that work to connect to/from QF8.
    My only thinking is if you are flying on the Tuesday, when QF8 doesn't run?
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 02:41 pm

    Yes indeed Tuesday coming back is via Chicago and LA or SFO not DFW; my point. The three stop coming back as I said is hard to avoid.
    No member give thanks

  • Graeme Sharman

    GovMan

    4 Jun, 2019 09:29 am

    Makes a complete mockery of ACCC's rejection of the NZ/AC JV.
    Perhaps AC/NZ and UA should apply for a broad Can/US/NZ/Aus JV.
    That would still have less marketshare than QF/AA
    Member who gave thanks

    Timthemonkey

  • Say Mee

    mspcooper

    4 Jun, 2019 11:14 am

    Wow, BNE getting tons of Qantas love. BNE-ORD would be awesome.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 02:42 pm

    Brisbane is where the 787-9s are based.
    No member give thanks

  • levelnine

    levelnine

    4 Jun, 2019 08:48 pm

    More importantly, the 787s don't have the range to do SYD-ORD, so BNE was Qantas' only option.
    No member give thanks

  • Aidan

    Aidan

    4 Jun, 2019 11:25 am

    With all the Perth issues, hopefully this will mean direct flights from Sydney/Melbourne expansion.
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Kumar

    jaseeee

    4 Jun, 2019 11:27 am

    Now people can stop complaining that SYD gets all the love from QF
    No member give thanks

  • levelnine

    levelnine

    4 Jun, 2019 08:51 pm

    I wouldn't get too excited. Once Qantas have aircraft capable of doing SYD-ORD non-stop, they will almost certainly drop BNE-ORD.

    PER-LHR and BNE-ORD are stop gaps until longer range aircraft come online for Qantas.
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    5 Jun, 2019 06:07 pm

    SYD-ORD would probably be well down the Sunrise list though. LHR and JFK flights would be first.
    No member give thanks

  • Hewnix

    Hewnix

    4 Jun, 2019 11:41 am

    Rather fly eastward to Auckland from Syd or Mel and then continue on to Chicago on AirNZ metal rather than pointlessly head north to Brissy to then fly American metal to Chicago. SYD-SEA should have been top priority given corporate connections. Nothing going on up in Brisbane that has anything to do with Chicago.
    Member who gave thanks

    aussiepiper

  • Dave

    Grannular

    4 Jun, 2019 11:54 am

    Imagine for a second that the airline had a large amount of data and did their own research, to be able to come to to the conclusion that this route will be the most profitable.
    Member who gave thanks

    tommackay

  • Speak

    Speak

    4 Jun, 2019 01:34 pm

    FYI: SYD-BNE-ORD is around a 250km shorter journey than SYD-AKL-ORD.
    Member who gave thanks

    GovMan

  • Graeme Sharman

    GovMan

    4 Jun, 2019 01:54 pm

    But also requires a Domestic to International Connection. Which makes AKL the easier transit point
    Member who gave thanks

    aussiepiper

  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    5 Jun, 2019 04:30 pm

    hate to admit it, but changing flights in AKL is much easier than in BNE.
    Member who gave thanks

    Briggo

  • highflyer

    highflyer

    4 Jun, 2019 02:02 pm

    I think the point of the JV is to fly to Brissy and fly to Chicago on QF Metal, not American metal. I am sure AA will codeshare, and offer onward connections in Chicago, and vice versa with QF on the return to Australia.
    No member give thanks

  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    4 Jun, 2019 02:46 pm

    Let’s be thankful the airline has smart people working out route economics rather than just basing decisions from individual opinions.

    Feel free to stick with Air NZ’s average business product.
    No member give thanks

  • Aidan

    Aidan

    4 Jun, 2019 04:38 pm

    Air NZ can join the ranks with BA for LCC awards..
    No member give thanks

  • k  lane

    londoner

    5 Jun, 2019 09:16 pm

    along with QANTAS then aidan
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 02:48 pm

    I an not sure it is pointless given that is where the QF 787s are based. Also Seattle would be good but as it is an Alaskan hub QF won’t mention an expanded code share with them until AA is bedded down and even then their ma be a clause that limits it.
    No member give thanks

  • AT90

    AT90

    5 Jun, 2019 09:00 am

    Quite the opposite actually. If you read the Show Cause Order in detail, a key element to the DOT approving the JBA is both airlines can’t restrict other third party codeshare agreements as it will limit competition.
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    6 Jun, 2019 01:00 am

    errr, no - the BNE-ORD flight with be on QF metal, not AA - that's the whole point of the announcement.
    No member give thanks

  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    4 Jun, 2019 03:49 pm

    Is it (1) just more Qantas marketing spin, or (2) just Qantas legal spin to make the case for approval of the AA JV, or (3) for real? Mmmm.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 05:49 pm

    I think you will find it is more than spin as the full reasons and conditions have been published. The main condition being that anyone can interline with them on the route. There are other reporting conditions as well as the three new routes.
    No member give thanks

  • Martin  Slobodnik

    msport2012

    4 Jun, 2019 09:20 pm

    With the JV heading towards approval, what are the chances that AA will revert back to the B777-300er onto the SYD route?
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Jun, 2019 09:38 pm

    They may do that but they are required to have a new route which may be Melbourne LA. QF may then drop the A380 on this out of Melbourne and just have 787s. QFs new routes will be Chicago and SFO out of Brisbane.
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    5 Jun, 2019 06:09 pm

    Or they could keep QF A380 and move all the 787 flights to MEL-SFO
    No member give thanks

  • aggie57

    aggie57

    4 Jun, 2019 10:23 pm

    I'd be sad to see the 380's taken off the MEL-LA route, and it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense given it seems ideally suited to the 380 and Qantas spent a stack of $ on their maintenance facility in LA to take advantage of the time they spend on the ground there.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    5 Jun, 2019 07:57 am

    The LA facility is for 787s as well as the A380.
    No member give thanks

  • Kathy Franklyn

    Kathy Franklyn

    5 Jun, 2019 05:39 pm

    Also have just flown direct Pert to London on Dreamliner. Couldn’t get business so in economy. Seats horrific for 171:2 hours. Hard as rock. Leg room ok but they need to upgrade the padding!!!!!! Would go back to a stopover in preference
    No member give thanks

  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    4 Jun, 2019 10:26 pm

    Great news about Chicago being the next destination. Very much welcomed.
    No member give thanks

  • David Henshall

    Red Cee

    5 Jun, 2019 07:45 am

    It wouldn’t be a good idea to take the A380 off the Melbourne to Los Angeles route. I would say, that if anyone was to loose the A380, it would be DFW, and it sent to SFO, with DFW getting a 787 from SYD and possibly BNE or MEL.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    6 Jun, 2019 09:17 am

    The issue here is one of not having too much additional capacity. They could drop the two 787s but if AA went daily then that would be a bit of capacity increase. They could reduct the A380 to six days or so and have AA six days as well.
    No member give thanks

  • Craig

    crwilkins

    5 Jun, 2019 11:46 am

    Domestic connections in any Australian airport are much better than any connection in US airports, is great to see ORD direct even if it is via BNE. Re the A380, seems like “the whale” is dying, it only appears to work on a handful of high volume very thin routes
    No member give thanks

  • Tom Wilson

    tommygun

    5 Jun, 2019 12:59 pm

    Many travelers now look for frequency of service without connections, which is where smaller aircraft with long range (e.g. 787) come into their own. But there are places the 787 cannot go (yet) - JNB and SCL. I look forward to the day I can travel with Qantas to those places on a 380, not a 747 - even if the service cannot be daily.
    No member give thanks

  • Grumpyoldman

    Grumpyoldman

    5 Jun, 2019 06:26 pm

    Given LAN launching 787-9 direct SYD to SCL, is there a reason QF couldn’t do this too?
    Member who gave thanks

    paperplanes

  • Pablo Reyes

    paperplanes

    5 Jun, 2019 09:22 pm

    787s have ETOPS 330. LAN flies to Mel already nonstop, in addition to the newly announce Sydney service.
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    6 Jun, 2019 01:05 am

    QF needs ETOPS approval from CASA. LAN doesn't (it just needs approval from its own regulator in Chile.)
    No member give thanks

  • BJ01

    BJ01

    5 Jun, 2019 02:46 pm

    Great news! Visited Chicago for the first time in winter last year and absolutely loved it. Really surprised it doesn't get much more of a mention here in Australia generally. I really hope they get some good marketing behind it to make it a success. This is one route of am edging to try out!
    No member give thanks

  • Garth Freeman

    rnickey mouse

    5 Jun, 2019 03:27 pm

    Didn't QF fly to ORD a few years ago? Didn't they drop it because of a lack of demand? Perhaps direct flights may make a difference. Love BNE-ORD though (as a Queenslander).
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    6 Jun, 2019 01:06 am

    QF announced it was going to fly MEL-LAX-ORD. Sold tickets and all. Then cancelled it before the first service ever operated.
    No member give thanks

  • donatello

    donatello

    8 Jun, 2019 04:21 am

    I had that same story too from a QF flight attendant when we talked about the new Chicago route. They mentioned the timing the launch was meant to be soon after September 2001. The sharp decline in air travel demand forced the plans to be shelved.
    No member give thanks

  • Garth Freeman

    rnickey mouse

    5 Jun, 2019 03:29 pm

    QF want to fly to Seattle because of its access to Vancouver. Why not fly to YVR then and then tag on a 5th freedom route to, say, EWR or ORD? Just saying.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    5 Jun, 2019 07:49 pm

    QF want to fly to Seattle as it is a business destination in and of itself, as well as being an Alaskan airlines hub which QF can access as Alaskan is a code share partner, which is very good for a whole range of routs that AA is less good at.
    No member give thanks

  • Bruce Robinson

    Bra

    5 Jun, 2019 03:47 pm

    Chicago is a good town to visit but not so much in winter. If you plan to transfer to another flight at ORD leave about 4 hours at least between flights as delays due storms in summer and snow in winter can be extensive. However if you are flying first or business US airlines are normally very helpful at arranging alternative flights.
    No member give thanks

  • Ian Whillas

    Racala

    5 Jun, 2019 06:19 pm

    Chicago is very prone to major storms in their summer.. spent 4 hours on the ground in LA waiting for a slot a few years back. Weather there can be very variable.. whilst there one day 83F, next day 38F with a howling wind off the lake. If you are brave go and see how the lifeguards are handling the conditions on the beach.

    One other thing.. on the memorial day weekend.recently. 10 murders/40 others shot...do you really won't to go there????

    No member give thanks

  • Balta  Caceres

    Aircraft Lover

    5 Jun, 2019 08:54 pm

    Personally, I think that a comfortable aircraft, in all cabins, makes ultra-long-haul flights a great option

    Every time there is a stopover, there is the possibility of a flight delay, due to air-traffic restrictions, weather conditions, and many other reasons
    No member give thanks

  • Kerry

    Kerry R

    17 Jun, 2019 12:29 pm

    How long is the BNE - ORD direct flight expected to take?
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Guest

17 Jun, 2019 09:17 pm

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