Qantas has commenced direct flights between Brisbane and San Francisco, linking the Californian metropolis with Australia’s third-largest city.
Touching down in ‘The Golden State’ on 9 February, the inaugural service was flown by four-month-old Boeing 787-9 – VH-ZNI – carrying the name ‘Kookaburra.’
With seats on the route going on sale in July last year, Qantas said the flights are “performing well” – saving travellers around four hours when compared to indirect options.
The 11,367km route has an advertised eastbound travel time of 12-hours and 40 minutes. Dreamliner’s – which have replaced Boeing 747s on all of Qantas’ San Francisco services – offer travellers on this new long-distance trek an enhanced cabin experience.
Perks include a lower pressure (max 1,828m / 6,000ft) and improved cabin humidity, which ultimately reduces fatigue and the effects of jetlag.
The inaugural flight – QF59 – was farewelled by Queensland Tourism Minister the Hon. Kate Jones as well as Brisbane Airport’s CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff.
Qantas International CEO Tino La Spina was also present. He used the occasion to acknowledge the difficulties that the Australian tourism industry has faced in the early weeks of 2020 as well as look towards a brighter future.
“It’s been a difficult start to the year for Australian tourism but new routes like this help to stimulate interest and bring more visitors. The message we’re sending to the US is that Australia is very much open for business and it’s easier than ever to get here,” La Spina said.
“There are some inbound tourism benefits too. These direct routes put some of Australia’s most popular destinations like the Whitsundays just a one-stop flight away from a foggy San Francisco morning or a chilly Chicago day, and that’s great news for Queensland and Australian tourism.”
From the Sunshine State to the Golden Gate https://t.co/yh4fscFbex
— Brisbane Airport ✈️ (@BrisbaneAirport) February 8, 2020
The return flight – QF60 – offers a 13 hour and 45-minute transpacific link, and adds over 73,000 seats on flights into Queensland each year, worth around $67.1 million. The service is also celebrated for its employment opportunities, with an estimated 700 jobs created by the new route.
Queensland Minister Kate Jones said the service would help attract more visitors from America.
“We know direct aviation access is key to growing our state’s tourism industry and that’s why we’re continuously working with our partners to explore new opportunities for Queensland,” Minister Jones said.
Queensland visitors using San Francisco as a US transit point will benefit from improvements being made to the airport, with a new public outdoor observation deck set to open on Valentines Day.
Dubbed the ‘Sky Terrace’, the facility is located in Terminal 2 – which is utilised by Qantas’ US codeshare partner American Airlines.
Providing 180-degree views, the 135 square metre public space includes an airport museum; adding to the existing activities available to fill transit time at the terminal.
Dubbed ‘The 1954 San Francisco International Terminal’, the museum exhibit explores the history of the 1950s airport structure that previously occupied the space where the new observation deck is located.
Of the Sky Terrace, San Francisco Airport Director Ivar C. Satero said: “We are very excited to open an outdoor observation deck that everyone can enjoy. For many of us, coming to SFO with family to watch airplanes helped inspire our love for aviation. With the SkyTerrace, we hope to bring that same passion and excitement to new generations of families.”