I’ve been researching flights to Australia and it seems like Qantas is the only airlinethat runs the US to Australia route. Normally routes are served by airlines from the countries on both end. Like for US-UK, you have choices like Delta or Continental or Virgin or British Air.
So what’s up with the Australia route? Is it just unprofitable for the US carriers to run it?
Could it be that fewer airlines have planes capable of nonstop trans-Pacific flights, or even making trans-Pacific journeys that don’t entail too many stops?
I work just south of LAX and drive through the Sepulveda tunnel under the runways almost every workday. Often, in the morning, I see airplanes landing that have undoubtedly come from the other side of the Pacific Rim–I can tell that by the airlines–Korean, Thai, Singapore, JAL, and so on. Nearly all these aircraft happen to be late model 747s. I never see one of these planes in the colors of an American airline.
Can it be that, possibly due to not wanting to purchase and maintain 747s, American airlines have partly abandoned the Pacific market to foreign carriers?
Ah yes. Interesting. I think I missed United because I’m actually trying to get to Brisbane, and they don’t seem to have any partners that will make the connection to there from Sydney or wherever they fly into. You type in BNE and it denies there are any flights. Strange, since the town is on their route map.
(This also points out that non-stop isn’t that fabulous. Nonstop to Sydney and then a flight to Brisbane is basically the same as a nonstop to Auckland, NZ and then to Brisbane. Still one stopover.)
I thought that airlines in general were beefing up their long-distance non-stops. Certainly Air Canada has fairly recently added non-stops from Toronto to Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai and Beijing. Are US airlines not doing this?
It’s not just a question of profitability; it’s a question of government policy and political pressure.
Last i heard—and i haven’t read much about this for a few years—Australia lags considerably behind a lot of other countries in terms of its involvement in bilateral aviation agreements, and this is especially true for the big airports like Sydney and Melbourne, and is even more true of the trans-Pacific routes. Qantas guards the route like a bulldog, opposing attempts to open it up to other airlines. Qantas and United are the only two airlines that serve the direct US-Australia market. Air New Zealand used to have direct flights between Australia and New Zealand, but dropped out some years back.
Ah, now some Googling has turned up some documents on this.
A few years ago, Singapore Airlines applied to the be allowed to serve the US-Australia route. After some stalling and hemming and hawing, the Australian government finally, in February of this year, denied Singapre the right to fly the trans-Pacific route. Strongly opposing Singapore’s application were both Qantas and Virgin Blue—the latter apparently because it feels that, as an Australian carrier, it should get preference.
Here’s part of the Australian government’s announcement (pdf):
So, looking at this quote, it appears that other US carriers could have direct flights to Australia if they wanted to, but they must feel that it’s not really worthwhile.
It’s not just a case of the flights themselves; there’s also the airport access issue that i mentioned above. I found an Australian Parliamentary Library Report on liberalisation of international air travel, and it had this to say about airport access:
Bolding mine again.
It seems that conditions at Sydney Airport greatly favor airlines that have been landing there for a long time, and make it difficult for new contenders to gain access.
As pointed out earlier, Quantas is being protected on its N.Am route. You do have some choices though. United flies Australia direct LAX or brief stopover in Honolulu out of San Francisco. Air Canada flies out of Vancouver BC with a short stop over in Honolulu (45 minutes) and is a co-share partner with United. You can go on Air New Zealand via Auckland. Air New Zealand offers some pretty good rates via iternet on their N.Am site. Singapore Airlines offers some good rates too but it is a longer hop using them. Try Flight Centre (they are a huge Australian company) for fares as they have volumn deals. (You can Google them…be sure to specify ‘Flight Centre USA’ or you will get a multitude of international offices).
Air New Zealand via Auckland might be worth looking in to. If you don’t want the cheapest seat, they have a new Premium Economy product that provides more leg room and better service. It is marketed to those who want something a bit nicer than economy, but can’t afford business class.
I fly between the US and Australia quite frequently. The first time was in 1993, when I fle NorthWestern from Sydney to Detroit via Osaka. However, NorthWesten no longer flies into Australia. Since then I’ve usually used United, but occasionally have used Air New Zealand.
American Airlines appears to fly from LAX to SYD, but those flights are code-shares with Qantas: they are really Qantas flights.
UA has a flight to BNE. I used 20 aug as the dept. date and it gave me a flight via Sydney.
As for other airlines, there are actually a crapload of carriers offering fares. Mind you a lot of them are co sharing with Qantas, wich means that technically even if you are still flying on a QF airplane it is a AA ticket (for example).
There are also a bunch of European carriers offering fares, via europe so it may just extend travel times a wee bit but still technically available.
What’s your routing, maybe I can give you some help/suggestions.
I thought that there was a rule in the States that flights operated by companies in foreign countries (or even those operated by US companies) must have either the destination or origination stop be in that country. Meaning that JAL could fly from Osaka to LAX, or Brisbane to Osaka to LAX, or LAX to Osaka to Melbourne, but a JAL nonstop flight from Sydney to LAX wouldn’t be allowed. Likewise, a Northwest flight couldn’t fly from Toronto to Heathrow without stopping somewhere in the States inbetween. Is this indeed a rule? If it is, that might explain some of it.
When I flew to Australia, it was United through San Francisco. But that only got me to Sydney - had to take another flight to get to Perth. There weren’t any nonstops from SF to Perth.