Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tourists dominate on world's longest 747 route for Qantas

The first Qantas flight from Sydney to Dallas arrives at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas.
The first Qantas flight from Sydney to Dallas arrived at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in May. Photo: AP
Qantas's new flights to north Texas are carrying mostly leisure passengers from Australia looking to visit the US, airline figures show.
The Flying Kangaroo started services to Dallas/Fort Worth in May, operating four times a week using a Boeing 747-400ER.
The decision to head to Texas was made in part to offer better connections to other US destinations at its oneworld alliance partner American Airlines' biggest hub, the airline said at the time.
 
Moreover, it was also hoped to attract more corporate or business passengers than direct flights from Australia to San Francisco, which were dropped in favour of Dallas/Fort Worth.
Qantas NSW regional general manager Peter Collins said last week that load factors - a measure of how full flights are - on the Australia-Dallas/Fort Worth route were averaging 90 per cent.
He said about 80 per cent of that load was leisure passengers, with the remaining 20 per cent being business or corporate travellers.
"My interpretation of that is that's nothing but good news," Mr Collins said, in reference to the business-leisure split.
"As we grow the route, and as the corporates start to learn about how great the connections are, that's going to grow further."
Qantas flies direct from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth - travel time 15 hours and 25 minutes and the longest route using a Boeing 747.
The return leg is via Brisbane.
The initial months of service featured some hiccups as strong winds forced unscheduled stops at either New Caledonia or Auckland to refuel on the way back to Brisbane.
Some passengers also complained luggage was left behind at Dallas/Fort Worth due to load restrictions.
Mr Collins said there had been, at most, three diversions and all had to do with "adverse headwinds".
"Given that we've been flying for about three months, it is a pretty small amount," Mr Collins said.
"We don't expect this to be ongoing or part of the route, because this is a successful route."
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport chief executive Jeff Fegan was recently on a diverted flight.
He said it wasn't a big deal as pilots had explained before takeoff what would happen.
"It really wasn't a bad convenience and I think the customers understood and I heard no complaints at all," Mr Fegan said.
"I don't think anyone wants to argue with a pilot's decision to safely operate the airplane."
The airline hopes to increase frequency to a daily service and is seeking regulatory approval to coordinate with American on areas such as fares, selling activity and joint venture proposals in an expanded commercial relationship.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said the airline is likely to switch the 747 to Boeing 787 Dreamliners when they became available.
Tourists dominate on world's longest 747 route for Qantas

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