MIAMI — Qantas will return to Vancouver in January 2015, with twice weekly nonstop service from Sydney between January 3 and January 22, 2015. The service will utilize one of Qantas’ 13 Boeing 747-400/400ER aircraft, seating either 364 or 371 passengers in a three class configuration [ ( 58J / 36Y+ / 270Y) or ( 56J / 40Y+ / 275Y ). Passengers will be able to fly from Sydney to Vancouver on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return flights operated on Thursdays and Sundays. Flight schedules for the new flights are as follow:
QF 75 ~~ SYD – YVR ~~ D:1450 A: 0945 +1 ~~ 36
QF 76 ~~ YVR – SYD ~~ D: 2345 A: 1000 +1 ~~ 47
In total, Qantas will operate just six return flights to Vancouver, but the scheduled service still represents international expansion for the beleaguered Australian carrier, whose international operations have suffered financially due to competitive pressure from lower cost Asian airlines, and structural problems with its own operation. At Vancouver, Qantas customers will have the opportunity to connect to several destinations (as shown in the map below) with code share partner WestJet.
Qantas has served Vancouver at various points in its history, most often as an extension of its now-cancelled Sydney – San Francisco route. At certain points, Qantas instead offered Vancouver service as an extension of nonstop service between Sydney and Honolulu, an extension now offered by connecting onto WestJet. When the airline placed an order for 50 Boing 787 Dreamliners in 2006, it spent years postulating Vancouver as a potential destination for the 787. However, after canceling its order for 35 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, Qantas has instead turned to the Boeing 747-400, freed up in part by its decision to up-gauge its Dallas Fort Worth service to the Airbus A380.
Qantas is banking on strong tourist demand for skiing in January, the peak of the summer season in the Southern hemisphere, to support its services to Vancouver. It will face competition from Air Canada, the largest airline at Vancouver, who will operate a Boeing 777-300ER on the route during the summer season.
It is curious that the carrier has opted for such a short window of service, given that ski season in the western half of North America extends from November to March, and that the Australian summer extends from December through February. However, it is possible that the carrier is simply trialling the service, and will extend the flights to a more complete window, either via an extension in 2015, or to a full rotation in the IATA Northern Winter of 2015-16.