Qantas has announced it will fly non-stop from Brisbane to Chicago from April 2020, pending the US government’s approval of a joint venture with American Airlines. Qantas will use Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for the four-weekly flights, which will be timed to allow for easy one-stop connections via Brisbane from cities across Australia to Chicago.
Additionally, Qantas will launch thrice-weekly flights from Brisbane to San Francisco. These flights will complement Qantas’ daily Sydney-San Francisco and 4-weekly Melbourne-San Francisco services.
Qantas is expecting the delivery of six new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from later this year. These new aircraft will make Qantas’ new Chicago and San Francisco routes possible, as well as allowing Qantas to continue retiring its fuel-guzzling Boeing 747s.
Qantas currently operates 10 flights per week from Brisbane to Los Angeles. This route would be reduced to a daily service once the Chicago and San Francisco services are added. The aircraft operating Qantas’ remaining daily Brisbane-Los Angeles flight continues to New York.
The flight time from Brisbane to Chicago will be a marathon 16 hours and 20 minutes and the route covers 8,901 miles. When it launches, Brisbane-Chicago will be the fourth-longest flight in the world.
Qantas says that seats will go on sale as soon as final approval for its joint venture with American Airlines is given by the US Department of Transportation. This is expected to happen in a few weeks. American Airlines will codeshare on these and all other Qantas services across the Pacific.
The introduction of the Boeing 787-9 to the Qantas fleet has successfully opened new route opportunities for the airline. The Boeing 787-9 has a longer range than Qantas’ other aircraft and is also able to economically operate routes with thinner demand. Qantas is betting that the success of its Perth-London flights will be mirrored in the new Chicago flights.
Perth-London is just 108 miles longer than Brisbane-Chicago, making it currently the third-longest flight in the world after Singapore-Newark and Doha-Auckland.
Air New Zealand already began direct flights from Auckland to Chicago in November 2018.
This is not the first time that Qantas announced flights to Chicago. Back in November 2002, Qantas announced it would commence three-weekly Melbourne-Los Angeles-Chicago flights on a Boeing 747. The service was due to commence in March 2003 but was cancelled before the first flight took off.
There had been speculation that Qantas could use some of its new Dreamliners to launch non-stop flights from Perth to Paris or Frankfurt. But these plans are reportedly on hold for now due to an ongoing dispute between Qantas and Perth Airport.
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