American Airlines has returned to Sydney. The first flight in several months touched down this week, joining rivals Qantas, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines on the Los Angeles – Sydney sector. The Dallas-based airline joins other airlines now restoring services to Australia’s biggest city.
Daily American flights to Sydney resume
An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed in Sydney on Thursday morning after operating AA73 across the Pacific. After a few hours on the ground, the aircraft operated AA72 back to Los Angeles.
American Airlines will now operate daily flights in and out of Sydney – what it offered before the travel crunch. The 787-9 seats 285 passengers and adds 3,990 weekly seats in and out of Sydney on the Sydney – Los Angeles city pair.
The airline will fight it out with United’s daily Dreamliner service, Delta’s daily A350-900 flights, and Qantas’ soon-to-be Airbus A380 services on the route. It’s not quite business as usual on this city pair, but the four airlines together give prospective passengers plenty of choice.
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American’s return sees four airlines flying the Sydney – Los Angeles route
Except for United’s Sydney – San Francisco flights, other West Coast North American cities are still absent from the departures board at Sydney. Both Delta and American only ever flew the Sydney – Los Angeles route, but United usually also flies Sydney – Houston. Qantas typically flies to San Francisco, Vancouver, and Dallas in addition to Los Angeles. One Qantas Los Angeles flight also usually continues onto New York.
There’s plenty of business flying freight between Sydney and Los Angeles in both directions. However, passenger traffic remains subdued. While the US is welcoming fully vaccinated Australians, Australia is yet to roll out the welcome mat to fully vaccinated US citizens. That will change soon enough. But in the meantime, the restriction puts a dampener on demand for transpacific flights.
In 2019, the last year of clear air for airlines, 908,540 people flew in either direction between Sydney and Los Angeles. Measured by passenger numbers, it was the ninth busiest international airline route in and out of Australia. The route comprised 27.5% of all passenger traffic between the two countries that year.
British Airways also confirms return to Sydney
Meanwhile, there’s another marque airline soon to resume flights to Sydney. This airline is flying in from the opposite direction. British Airways has confirmed it is resuming its London – Singapore – Sydney services from the end of March.
Until it suspended its flights in 2020, British Airways was the last airline standing among a swag of Europe-based airlines that once flew into Sydney. The BA Sydney flight was also the last remnant of what once was an extensive British Airways footprint into Australia.
There are plenty of British Airways loyalists out there who will stick with that airline come what may. But their former daily Boeing 777-300ER service was pretty crook and simply not competitive with the sleeker planes and better cabins offered by Qantas and Singapore Airlines, who also competed on the London – Singapore – Sydney route.
But when BA returns to Sydney at the end of March, it will use a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. By mid-year, Qantas plans to use A380s on this route. Singapore Airlines operates a mixture of aircraft on the route, including A380s. Those BA Dreamliner flights might have trouble competing against the formidable Qantas and Singapore Airlines A380 offerings.
American Airlines will also have its work cut out for it, competing against some fairly swish cabin products offered by competitors on the Sydney – Los Angeles run. However, both airlines have a strong customer base, and it will be good to see two of the world’s biggest airline brands back in Australian skies.