Qantas will retire its Boeing 747s from the Sydney-Santiago route, replacing them with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from 24 June 2020 – just in time for the winter school holidays. At the same time, Qantas will ramp up its frequency on the Santiago route from four times per week to daily.
The Qantas Dreamliner has 236 seats across Business, Premium Economy and Economy classes. Although this is fewer than the Boeing 747’s 364 seats, the introduction of the Dreamliner on the route represents an extra 196 return seats on the Sydney-Santiago route every week.
Most of these extra seats are in the Business and Premium Economy cabins, which could be good news for frequent flyers looking to upgrade with points or secure a frequent flyer redemption ticket to South America. There is currently a moderate amount of award availability in Premium Economy.
For many years, Qantas has served South America using aircraft with four engines – something necessary due to ETOPS restrictions. ETOPS, or Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, requires aircraft with only two engines (like the Boeing 787) to remain within a certain distance of a usable airport at all times. The shortest route between Sydney and Santiago overflies Antarctica, and this southerly route is a long way from the nearest available runway.
Unless Australia’s aviation safety regulators have approved Qantas to fly further away from land than previously allowed using twin-engine aircraft, the Santiago route could be subject to a northerly detour once the Dreamliner is being used. ETOPS requirements ultimately led to the unprofitability of Virgin Australia’s Melbourne-Johannesburg flight back in 2010.
With the impending retirement of Qantas’ entire Boeing 747 fleet, this latest announcement from Qantas doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Once the Santiago service switches to the Boeing 787-9, Qantas’ only remaining 747 routes will soon be Sydney-Tokyo and Sydney-Johannesburg. It remains to be seen what Qantas does with the Sydney-Johannesburg route, currently served six times per week by a Boeing 747. The Sydney-Johannesburg route also takes a southerly track which could cause problems if a twin-engine aircraft is used.
The Qantas Dreamliner schedule for flights QF27 to Santiago, and the return QF28 to Sydney, remains unchanged after 24 June 2020:
- QF27 Sydney 12:35 – Santiago 11:10 (12 hours, 35 minutes)
- QF28 Santiago 13:30 – Sydney 17:50 +1 day (14 hours, 20 minutes)
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: 787 to SCL from June 2020.
LATAM Airlines to launch direct Sydney-Santiago flights
LATAM Airlines also announced recently that it will start non-stop Sydney-Santiago flights using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from October this year. The non-stop flights will run three times per week, alongside 4x weekly Sydney-Auckland-Santiago services.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: LATAM to commence direct SYD-SCL
American Airlines route announcement
In other Qantas partner airline route news, American Airlines announced five new long-haul routes yesterday:
- Philadelphia to Casablanca
- Dallas/Fort Worth to Tel Aviv
- Chicago to Krakow
- Chicago to Budapest
- Chicago to Prague
Casablanca, the hub airport of new Oneworld entrant Royal Air Maroc, will be American Airlines’ first destination in Africa.