Brisbane Airport’s CEO has hinted that Qantas could resurrect plans to launch a service to Chicago as early as this year.
The route was due to begin on 15 April 2020 but was axed when the Flying Kangaroo grounded its entire international commercial operations due to COVID.
Gert-Jan de Graaff said on Friday that prior to the pandemic, plans were “well advanced” on the service and the business now hopes to see it finally become a reality later in 2022.
It follows similar comments by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in late 2021 when he said he believed linking the two cities was “still a huge opportunity”.
The proposed route is particularly significant given it would have been the fourth-longest in the world, and the second-longest on Qantas’ network, taking 16 hours to travel 14,326 kilometres.
Its flight number, QF85/86, was meant to pay homage to the 1985 Chicago Bears football team, winners of the 1986 Super Bowl.
The hints from de Graaff came on the day Qantas restarted its service from Brisbane to Los Angeles after suspending it for more than two years.
The service will operate five times per week, departing at 10am from the Queensland capital and 10:20am from LAX.
The route is only the second active Qantas route from Brisbane, with flights also operating to Singapore.
It will soon see its network significantly expand when New Zealand drops its remaining COVID border restrictions, first flying to Auckland on 13 April before adding Port Moresby, Christchurch and Queenstown in the coming months.
Travellers will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test before departure, and two rapid antigen tests within a week of arrival but will not need to isolate.