Victoria wins contest for Qantas’s first 787-9 route, with Melbourne-Los Angeles services to start in December 2017

An artist's impression of the Boeing 787-9 in Qantas livery. (Qantas)
An artist’s impression of the Boeing 787-9 in Qantas livery. (Qantas)

Qantas has announced Melbourne-Los Angeles as the first international route for its Boeing 787-9 fleet.

The nonstop service will operate six times a week from December 15 2017, Qantas said in a statement on Tuesday.

Currently, Qantas flies daily between Melbourne and Los Angeles with Airbus A380 equipment, as well as two services a week using Boeing 747-400s, offering a choice of morning or afternoon departures from Tullamarine.

Under the new schedule, the existing daily A380 flights will remain in place alongside the six 787-9 services a week.

The increase from nine to 13 flights a week will represent an additional 1,400 or so seats a week on the route, Qantas said.

Qantas international chief executive Gareth Evans said the Victorian state government and its tourism marketing arm Visit Victoria would help promote the new services.

“We’ll be working with Visit Victoria on joint marketing campaigns to highlight what Victoria and the Qantas Dreamliner have to offer,” Evans said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tickets for the new 787-9 Melbourne-Los Angeles flights will go on sale on Christmas Day. The choice of Melbourne-Los Angeles was in keeping previous statements from the airline saying the 787-9s were bought to gradually take over routes operated by the 747-400.

Qantas is due to take delivery of the first of eight 787-9s on firm order in October 2017.

The aircraft will be configured with 236 seats, comprising 42 business class seats (in a 1-2-1 configuration), 28 premium economy seats (at 2-3-2 abreast) and 166 economy seats (at nine abreast).

United, which is the only other operator on the route, began Melbourne-Los Angeles flights in October 2014 with the 787-9. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia said in September it would return to the Melbourne-Los Angeles route from April 4 2017, with five flights a week using Boeing 777-300ERs.

The announcement of Qantas’s first international route with the 787-9 comes two days after the airline committed to flying nonstop between Perth and London from March 2018 using the next generation aircraft.


  1. deano says

    Yep Joyce the 787 was going to be a game changer
    747 or 9 abreast 787 mmmm
    He never said the game would be a better one

  2. Craigy says

    Before everyone starts jumping onto the number of seats in economy and the seat pitch, lets do some comparisons with those airlines using B787s to fly to the US.

    Qantas – 8 abreast premium, 9 abreast Economy at 32″ pitch (1″ more than the A380)
    UA – 9 abreast premium, 9 abreast economy at 32″ pitch (UA website)
    Air NZ – 8 abreast premium, 9 abreast economy at 30-32″ pitch (Air NZ website)

    I realise the seats are narrower than the other aircraft in the market, however competition wise the Qantas is the same as the other B789 operators across the Pacific. However, Qantas will carry less passengers. I don’t remember reading a lot of complaints when Air NZ launched the B789 with their seat count, row numbers or seat pitch.

  3. john doutch says

    Agreed Mark. Congrats to Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city, and QF, the world’s most experienced airline.

  4. deano says

    When you talk about a game changing aircraft one would think that you were offering up better than narrower seats in economy
    An extra inch in pitch as compared to an A380 is no compensation for snuggling up to some stranger next to you
    No one bothered criticizing ANZ as this is an Australian magazine so who cares what they do across the ditch
    There is less difference between Qantas and Jetstar and they are getting closer together all the time
    Why not just run Qantas as premium only and send Jetstar to the US for economy……

  5. Craigy says

    @ Andrew

    Sorry yes you are correct. Air NZ is 7 abreast as will be QF. Good thing I am booked into specsavers on Friday for an eye exam!!

    @ Deano. The game changer for this aircraft is its longer legs and can support city pairs that can’t be met with other aircraft. Seems to me the class distribution is such to give maximum access to all three travel classes and the modelling suggests maximum revenue possible. Time will tell.. People talk about the 9 across B777 config in economy but more airlines are moving to 10 abreast to try an increase passenger numbers. Case in point is Cathy Pacific’s recent announcement. So narrower seats.

    If this is an Australian only magazine, why do they cover Air New Zealand’s activities in such depth?

    As for your last comment, QFA and JST are two different products servicing different markets.

  6. Craigy says

    An interesting point about this announcement is that Melbourne was the first international departure point for the A380 for QF

  7. Marc, Gold Coast says

    Melbourne, worlds most livable city? Based on weather it wouldn’t be in my top 100.

  8. says


    Your comment that this is an Australian publication and who cares about New Zealand says a lot about your isolationist ignorant and arrogant thinking. New Zealand aviation is covered by the magazine extensively as is Air NZ performance and innovation. Your comment is offensive abd right out of order to many readers of AA.

  9. deano says

    If this game changing 787 is so awesome because of it’s longer range, why are they merely replacing 747 routes?
    Qantas has now firmed up 8 frames
    2 will be for MEL LAX
    2 will be for PER LHR, ok this is a new ultra long haul route
    My guess is that the remaining 4 will again just to retire 747s

    Yes JQ and QF are somewhat products, however, when you talk cattle class, there is not a lot of difference
    Both 9 across
    Both fares about the same when you factor everything in’
    1 inch pitch difference

    And when you talk about other airlines sardineafying their 787s so why shouldn’t Qantas, that is trying to justify the indefensible
    To go 8 abreast will see a reduction of around 20 seats in economy and would give a point of difference to Qantas
    For those rare occasions that the flight was booked out, the computer booking systems would have generated higher pricing to compensate for less seats. When load factors are less, then Qantas misses out on $0.00 revenue

    To be honest I don’t understand why even the likes of Jetstar throw 2 extra rows of seats into their A320s and cram passengers in with a shoehorn, then see 20% of seats empty on a majority of their sectors
    Yes I get that often flights are full and this generates extra revenue, but surely they would know when there are peaks and troughs and with some tweaking of maintenance schedules they could make extra frames available for peak times just in case rather than sticking to rigid timetables

  10. Brad says

    @deano’s comment “Yes I get that often flights are full and this generates extra revenue, but surely they would know when there are peaks and troughs and with some tweaking of maintenance schedules they could make extra frames available for peak times just in case rather than sticking to rigid timetables”

    I don’t think aircraft metal is the kind of asset that airlines – who have extremely tight margins – have sitting around ‘just in case’. So with the options being to have expensive yet under-utilised assets sitting around, or moving current aircraft around in the schedule that causes a huge flow-on impact throughout that schedule which is likely close to impossible to deal with on relatively short notice, one has to assume Qantas has considered all the options available and believes this is the best one. Certainly it appears to be roughly in-line with the market where they are obviously comfortable under Joyce. Leading the market doesn’t appear to be a risk they are willing to take on.

  11. Chris says

    The days are numbered for the A380 due no new orders since 2015 where there was only 2, as airlines are going for the B787 and A350, due to their fuel efficiency and the ability to fly longer routes, especially since Airbus has released the A350-9lr. It wont be long for Boeing will announce B787-9er. Anyway, Qantas is replacing its B747 fleet with B787’s.

    Qantas, like other main carriers are moving away from ‘spoke n hub’ operations to direct ‘point to point’ routes hence the initial routes PER/LHR and MEL/LAX, so the A380 will be restricted to those carriers like Emirates, Qatar and Etihad. Even Singapore Airlines is will be decreasing its A380’s from from 2017.

    Looking at the new seat design in all 3 classes for the B787, it seems Qantas intentions are to offer more long range ‘point to point’ routes like Air NZ.

  12. deano says

    The 787 was promoted by Boeing as a Premium New Generation aircraft, and designed with the economy seating at 2-4-2
    When airlines worked out that they could squeeze an extra row of seating in they took it from a premium aircraft to a LCC type
    Sure I understand that a LCC would want 9 abreast, but we are talking about Qantas which is not a LCC, it is supposed to be a PREMIUM BRAND……yet it still wants to cram passengers into Jetstar type seating

    There is no game changing to be seen here, just copy what every one else does which is probably mandated by the likes of their code share partners like AA so that passengers will only be able to choose one sardine can or another
    These are long and ultra long haul flights, not just a few hours to Asia, passengers will vote with their feet, mark my words and gravitate to A380s where possible

  13. says

    Boeing Order book update yesterday now gives the confirmed delivery date for the third QANTAS 787-900 airframe with the delivery coming on 31 Dec 2017 airframe 655. The first delivery has also slipped by a week or so with a new date of 12th October 2017 with the second airframe arriving on 1st December. Thus by the end of 2017 QANTAS will have just the first three of their eventual 8 aircraft.

  14. Craigy says

    @ Andrew – You beat me to it. I wonder if the remaining four planned to be delivered in 2018-19 FY will be brought forward on the back of strong profits. Using current guidance, profit will be over a billion again this financial year and I don’t think they will have used all the loss credits so most of that profit will remain within the company.

  15. js says

    Craigy, I’ve flown both Jetstar and Qantas. They are hardly different products. They are the same product unless you’re a plane spotter. Difference in seating, if there was even any at all, was not noticed. Qantas had the significantly older aircraft but the average person wouldn’t know or care. If you ad on the extras to a Jetstar fare that Qantas includes like seat selection, meal (crappy $5 microwave style but for $12.50) and check in luggage, the fares are quite close.
    In fact, if you book with Qantas on routes that are shared with Jetstar you can actually end up on Jetstar flights anyway.

  16. js says

    787, A350 or A380 are not game changers for the average airline traveller.

    There is no noticeable difference in anything. You still get a similar sized seat and you pay a similar fare and it still makes a lot of noise and you still have to wait around before departure and it still takes the same amount of time to get there.

    “Game changing”, “Dreamliner”, “revolutionary” etc – all just buzzwords used by marketing departments.

  17. john says

    Craigy seat pitch does NOT equal leg room. It all depends on the thickness of the back of the seats.

    2 identical aircraft with identical seat configuration, can have up to 5 inches difference in legroom with same seat pitch. It’s old thick seat backs vs new ultra thin ones.

  18. john says

    so Qantas will charge a premium for the 787 with less seats & Virgin will fly MEL/LAX again with 777

    Think I’ll go with Virgin.

  19. Flying Tiger says

    Always good for a laugh reading the comments. I’m guessing ‘Deano’ and ‘js’ don’t fly too often!!

    ‘js’ said (quote), “I’ve flown both Jetstar and Qantas. They are hardly different products. They are the same product unless you’re a plane spotter.”
    let me ask, Where exactly did you fly? and how drugged were you at the time of the flight?? or were you perhaps on a Jetstar flight with a QF flight number? To say Qantas and Jetstar are ‘the same product’ is like saying AFL and lawn bowls are ‘both rough sports’!!!

    And ‘Deano’ said (quote), “If this game changing 787 is so awesome because of it’s longer range, why are they merely replacing 747 routes?”. Maybe you should actually read the news? This one route (MEL-LAX) is replacing a 747. The PER-LHR route is new. The SYD-ORD route will be new, the MEL-DFW route will be new. A 747 could not do any of those routes. The new aircraft, with greater range, opens new opportunities. So…..that’s why it’s called a game changer.

    It’d be nice if forums were restricted to people who’d actually flown at least once in the past decade!