Qantas on Monday operated the first-ever direct flight from Melbourne to the US hub airport of Dallas/Fort Worth.
The service was significant as it represented the flag carrier’s latest “ultra-long-haul” route using its 787-9s, to add to services from Perth to London and Rome, as well as Sydney-Dallas.
The Qantas Dreamliner, VH-ZNH, departed the Victorian capital at 2:27pm as flight QF21 and is scheduled to land in the US at 12:46pm.
The three-times-weekly service will be one of the world’s longest, with the return trip back to Australia scheduled to last more than 17 hours. It will also be Melbourne’s first non-stop connection to a North American city that’s not on the west coast.
Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said Dallas provides excellent connections to destinations such as Orlando, Miami and Boston.
“As one of the biggest hubs in the United States, Dallas/Fort Worth is located less than a four-hour flight from every major city, connecting travellers to over 200 destinations across North America with our airline partners,” said David.
“New routes also open up new opportunities to bring more visitors to Australia. Around 40 per cent of bookings on this route are people coming from the US directly into Melbourne, and this will have flow-on benefits for local businesses.”
The Flying Kangaroo has had huge success with so-called ultra-long-haul routes using its fleet of modern Boeing Dreamliners.
Its seasonal service from Rome to Perth even became one of the most successful in its history after it saw 98 per cent of seats full during July.
Customers were able to combine the Rome flights with Qantas’s double-daily direct flights between Australia and London, meaning they could fly in and out of different cities on one return ticket through until October this year.
It compares far more favourably to Air New Zealand, which has seen a litany of problems with its flight from Auckland to New York using Dreamliners.
One service saw the carrier ask 15 passengers to get off the aircraft to save weight, while another instead removed luggage and put it on another flight.
Critics have suggested the current 787-9’s range, when full to capacity, simply isn’t long enough to accommodate the 16 or 17-hour flight if unforeseen events cause it to have to slightly change its route.
Air New Zealand has insisted the 787-9 is the “right aircraft” to fly the route but also revealed it will take delivery of new, specially-adapted Dreamliners for the route in 2024 that will carry fewer passengers and effectively extend its range.