What are the details?
In April Qantas will be using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet to link Brisbane, Australia with Chicago, USA. This new route will bring unparalleled connectivity between the two countries, especially access to the north of Australia and the North East of the United States. Previously, Qantas only reached as far as the US West Coast or Texas, with some fifth freedom routes traveling onwards to New York in the past.
However, expanding to a new region is no easy task to do. Qantas does not have any infrastructure or existing presence in Chicago, and thus needs to set up everything from ground crew to maintenance teams. An expensive prospect for an airline that is operating a single route four times a week to the distant city.
Unless, of course, it could ask its friends for help.
How are fellow oneworld members helping?
Enter fellow oneworld airlines American Airlines and British Airways.
Qantas has arranged for American Airlines to handle the ground staff for Qantas (boarding, baggage and more) and British Airways to lend their Chicago based maintenance teams to the Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner.
According to the Chicago Biz Journal, a leaked memo from the desk of Franco Tedeschi, American Airlines vice president in charge of their Chicago O’Hare hub outlined the plan.
“[American Airlines will] manage all areas of the Qantas operation in Terminal 3 and Terminal 5 — from the ramp, ticket counter, gate, and baggage service.”
The memo also revealed that Qantas will be operating to terminal three, where American Airlines operates its flights from, rather than terminal five which is the normal international terminal. British Airways operates from terminal five.
“…as it provides more opportunities for our team members, promotes a cohesive operation and further delivers on our commitment to a seamless customer journey.”
What does this mean going forward?
Likely this agreement is the first of many for Qantas, with the airline planning more routes to US cities in the future as it develops its long-range capabilities. As part of the Project Sunrise research flights, the airline no only plans to fly direct to London, but to New York as well.
Presumably, we will see more flights to Chicago from Melbourne and Sydney before the airline looks further west.
The relationship with British Airways is believed to be a more standard maintenance swap, much like how the maintenance is performed in Sydney for British Airways by Qantas, on their London – Singapore – Sydney route with a Boeing 777-300ER.
The first Chicago bound Qantas flight is due to depart April 15th. The journey will take around 17 hours and fly over 9,000 miles.
What do you think of this news? Do you want to fly onboard the new service to Chicago? Let us know in the comments.