Qantas Is No Longer The Biggest Airline To Australia

Aviation watchdog JonNYC points out that Qantas is no longer the biggest airline between the U.S. and Australia. That title now goes to United Airlines.

The Australian Financial Review writes that United Airlines service to Australia is up 50% year-over-year. And it’s not just offering more flights, it’s flying larger planes to Melbourne than before.

When we thought about building up our capacity and our international plans in Australia and other parts of the world over the last few years, you just had a very big shift in some of the industry dynamics because you’ve had different changes in how capacity looked pre-pandemic versus how it looks today,” Matt Stevens, United’s vice president of global network planning, told AFR Weekend.

According to data from Cirium Diio, United has 49% of the non-stop flights on all airlines between the U.S. and Australia this month.

  • They operate 462 flights per month total from the U.S. to Australia and back, compared to just 316 for Qantas, 107 for Delta, and 62 for American.

  • American and Qantas are part of a revenue-sharing joint venture, of course, and operate a combined 378 flights to United’s 462. So United is larger even than the combined American-Qantas partnership, which the Department of Transportation delayed for years out of concerns that it would effectively operate as a monopoly between the two countries.

  • United’s service is still 10% bigger if you add in the 36 total flights each month between New York JFK and Auckland that Qantas operates (this is one-stop, same-plane service between New York and Sydney).

Here are United’s routes to Australia – flying from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane and from Houston to Sydney.

United gets domestic feed from Virgin Australia, which controls about one-third of Australia’s domestic flying compared two Qantas which controls two-thirds. Traditionally Australia has been a strong market for U.S. flying in winter and weak over the summer but post-Covid, summer flying has been strong as well. United Airlines says that people are intentionally booking away from Qantas, choosing them instead.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This aviation watchdog about which you are fixated need only read United’s press releases – because United has been touting its size to the South Pacific for months.

    The death of Virgin Australia longhaul combined w/ timid fleet replacement strategies by Qantas – partially tied to waiting for Airbus to “up” the capabilities of the A350-1000 which QF has on order has allowed a window for US carriers.

    UA and DL are BOTH adding capacity, but as with alot of markets across the Pacific, UA was already larger.

    And the rumored A350-1000s for Delta could well end up going to Australia.

  2. Memo to Qantas: No airline ever shrank its way to greatness. Especially not when its home-end constituency hates it.

  3. An A350-1000 won’t do much for DL’s US-Australia network, which is not significant.

    DL has no feed on the OZ and NZ end (speaking for LAX-AKL).

  4. QF has really gone down significantly. Flights are often late, the cabins are fine, but lack of WIFI, frequency, and reliability is an issue. It is remarkable that just a few years ago, UA was widely considered the worst option to Australia, flying dated products on largely not reliable 747s and then transitioning to older 77Es, and finally to the 787 and 77W. Whether UA makes money on these routes is another matter.

  5. Larry,
    Delta has managed to double its LAX-SYD service to double daily and add AKL which started as seasonal and is now loaded as year round – all without the supposed benefit of a partner in the S. Pacific.
    Apparently Delta is seeing data that belies your notion.

  6. Qantas stole money from Australian taxpayers during the pandemic. Some MP’s have colluded with them to keep competition away. Their customer service and reliability are at all time lows. Their former CEO was let go, and their current one needs to be. Australians have completely lost faith and pride in the airline. As far as premium service goes, I’d say their service levels are now below United, having flown UA there for the first time this year. Their arrogance has caught up with them.

  7. @Tim
    Or DL just has too many widebodies and doesn’t have better places to put them.

    Exhibit A: flying to AKL during the northern Summer.
    That’s a huge waste of a plane that could/should be flying to Europe making more money than a 12hr flight to a destination during low season. It’s honestly amazing that Delta doesn’t have a better opportunity cost for a new A350 to Europe and instead chooses to fly it to NZ when demand is so low during their winter. The obvious answer is that DL has no other means to get their passengers there year-round via partners like AA/UA so they feel compelled to fly it and give up the opportunity cost of flying TATL during northern summer.

    And per S Pacific partners… just give it up. You can just admit that UA pulled a fast one on Delta when they grabbed VA from under their nose. Seems pretty obvious DL didn’t see that coming but it was certainly in VA’s interest given United’s size to Australia. Of course DL would be doing MUCH better in Oceania with a local partner generating high-yielding demand from Aus/NZ. It’s silly that you can’t admit that.

    Good for UA. Their size to Australia really is impressive. You’d think AA would start flying more to Oceania given the JV with QF but they don’t. That said… it is fun to see DFW-AKL starting so early in the season already

  8. Your title in wrong. Qantas is by far the largest airlines to Australia. The meagers 120 flights a day on united do not compare to the vast network operated by QF.

  9. Your title in wrong. Qantas is by far the largest airlines to Australia. The meagers 10 flights a day on United do not compare to the vast network operated by QF.

  10. max.
    if your post wasn’t so full of hypocrisy, contradictions and downright factual errors, it would be funny but because it is full of all of those things, it is sad. Downright sad.

    1. You and others have long chided Delta for having too few widebodies in order to grow and now you think they have too many so they have to deploy them in the S. Pacific? Beyond hypocritical.

    2. Flying an A350 to New Zealand on a 12 hour flight is a waste of plane for DL but it is ok for AA or UA to use their B787s on flights that are that short or even shorter – actually the majority of their 787 flying? Again, pricelessly stunning in the hypocrisy.

    3. AA, DL and UA ALL shift resources to the Southern hemisphere in the Northern hemisphere winter. DL isn’t doing anything any differently than what AA, UA and scores of global airlines do.

    4. UA and others serve AKL on a year round basis – but clearly not a waste of aircraft for them but it is for DL to serve anything in the Southern hemisphere on a year round basis. speechless that you would even write such trash

    5. Joint ventures are based on what a carrier puts into it. You clearly don’t understand that an airline that flies 1 flight/day compared to their JV partner that flies 10X that amount will get at best 10% of the total revenue – assuming both can equally sell seats on the combined services. The very reason why AA, not DL, has not participated in the huge demand across the Pacific this year is because they are relying on their JV partners instead of adding their own service.

    6. As much as you and the kiddie table ilk want to try to believe that DL has missed the boat on the S. Pacific, they clearly are capable of growing at a much faster rate w/o a JV which says the JVs in the S. Pacific are not stopping growth for those that don’t have them.

    7. Even with the huge boom in transpacific travel, AA is still losing money flying the Pacific and DL makes 1.8X more money per seat mile across the Pacific than UA. And across the Atlantic, DL and UA generated about the same amount of revenue to Europe, TLV and Africa which they jointly serve while UA’s additional revenue was to India and the Arab Middle East, which DL doesn’t serve. DL managed to make 66% more per seat mile flying the Atlantic than UA.
    But we know this is all just made up numbers to you because it shows that DL is doing better than its peers – which is something you absolutely cannot stand to admit.

  11. DL has virtually nothing in Oceania and never will. They have way too many single aisle airplanes and their fleet is among the oldest anywhere.

    IMO they don’t measure up to AA or UAL much less the ME3, Singapore etc. And Skyteam is definitely the poor sister of the alliances.I mean… Aeroflot- really?

  12. @Tim Dunn,

    DL has more widebodies than it knows what to do with and the LAX-AKL is 100% leisure and skews US point of sale.

  13. … but it is ok for AA or UA to serve that market?
    Has it ever crossed your tiny little mind that Delta might have won the Hollywood contract for service to NZ – or any part of it – when AA pulled its service and THAT is why DL committed to quickly converting the service to year round?

    cairns, United, not Delta has the oldest fleet among US airlines. And American has more narrowbodies than Delta.

    The children come out when they are faced w/ the reality that Delta is doing something right.. including finding opportunities to grow because of the longhaul failure of Virgin Australia and Qantas’ failure to refleet. AA didn’t bother to jump on those opportunities and UA jumps on anything but makes less money than DL doing so. All of which are hard facts for some to accept so they attack DL and those that highlight those facts.

  14. Do you even know how to read, Tim?
    I have never ever said DL has too many widebodies. If you’re going to generalize every person that points out your ignorance, at least do it correctly.
    2. I said flying an A350 during the northern summer was a waste of a plane. That plane could be generating much higher yields flying to Europe or probably even to Florida than to AKL in July. Frankly, AA/UA flying a 787 to AKL during the northern winter (when there’s real leisure DEMAND to AKL makes sense just like it does for DL to fly to AKL during the northern winter)
    United has a jV partner in AKL and is the largest airline on the West Coast where most US-based traffic to AKL is from. It makes sense that UA would be able to capture demand from NZ with its JV year-round. Delta’s demand is leisure based and they have no corporate accounts to speak of in AKL or NZ. Their demand is during the northern winter.

    Seriously, learn to read before you start with your usual dumb insults.

    But yes. It is shocking that Delta would fly a brand new A350 during the northern summer to AKL. There are SOOOO Many higher-yielding routes to Athens/Rome/CDG/DUB/you name that summer traffic destination where that plane would make more money doing two round trips vs one round trip on LAX-AKL.

    Your reading comprehension today is significantly lower than usual. Did happy hour already start in Atlanta?

  15. And if you want to talk about hypocrisy, Tim… start with your paragraph on JVs and how unimportant they are. You may want to share that with your buddies at DL. They clearly don’t know much about JVs and how much better they’d be doing if they followed your DL AKL example and didn’t have a JV… Except, wait. DL is VERY well aware how important JVs are to generating demand on both ends of a route.

    The stuff you write sometimes… I hope you have a fun night lined up other than writing comments all day

  16. Max,
    not only can you not read but you can’t think.
    I didn’t say JVs aren’t important.
    I simply said they have not made a difference in DL’s ability to grow in the S. Pacific.
    and you also don’t seem to grasp that UA and Virgin Australia are simply marketing partners, not in a JV as AA is w/ QF.
    DL still has an interline agreement w/ Virgin Australia. UA gets a few more bennies but it is far from what exists in a JV.
    As long as Virgin Australia is no longer flying to the US, there is no reason for any US carrier to participate in a joint venture.

    And AA, even w/ a JV in Australia, is not growing

    You desperately want to find fault w/ Delta and anyone that supports them and cannot explain why DL has managed to grow in the S. Pacific so you trash them and me.
    Grow up

    Just like UA, DL saw opportunities and pursued them. UA was in the S. Pacific long before DL but both are growing.

  17. Max,
    I didn’t say JVs aren’t important. I simply said they have not made a difference in DL’s ability to grow in the S. Pacific. and you also don’t seem to grasp that UA and Virgin Australia are simply marketing partners, not in a JV as AA is w/ QF. DL still has an interline agreement w/ Virgin Australia. UA gets a few more bennies but it is far from what exists in a JV. As long as Virgin Australia is no longer flying to the US, there is no reason for any US carrier to participate in a joint venture. And AA, even w/ a JV in Australia, is not growing You desperately want to find fault w/ Delta and anyone that supports them and cannot explain why DL has managed to grow in the S. Pacific so you trash them and me. Grow up Just like UA, DL saw opportunities and pursued them. UA was in the S. Pacific long before DL but both are growing.

  18. Qantas is over priced and never before in history has QF award inventory been this tight so I now fly AA and Virgin Down Under domestically
    Its to hard to get seats in business or first so I might even consider UA
    I do like the A380 in First and when I could book it I would book revenue on QF throughout Australia and to NZ
    Not too much though since the pandemic except twice
    QF Catering has sunk too in quality compared to years past however I suppose you could still do worse

  19. Sloppy reporting: “American and Qantas […] operate a combined 378 flights to United’s 462”. You’re mixing apples (tiny 788s) with oranges (large 388s); how about doing your job and reporting on the number of SEATS instead?

  20. Qantas is the LEAST Australian airline in the world, They stop flying at the drop of a hat, don’t fly at the drop of a hat, and leave the heavy lifting during disasters and pandemics to other airlines as they abandon Australians all over the globe.

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