Qantas prepares for major expansion push towards the US and Europe

Qantas Airways A380
Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock

With new aircraft due to enter its fleet in the coming year, Qantas is looking to broaden its long-haul horizons. The Sydney-based airline has new destinations in both the US and Europe in its sights as it also gears up for the commencement of the long-awaited Project Sunrise operation.  

The ‘flying kangaroo’ airline has already announced the start of services to Paris in mid-2024 and Rome from June to October 2024. The carrier says it is constantly evaluating other city pairs on which it could deploy its fleet of 14 long-range Boeing 787 Dreamliners and its 10 superjumbo Airbus A380s. 

“We always have five or six different city pairs under what we call deep observation, scrutinizing passenger flows and assessing yields,” said Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace while attending a travel event in Sydney in October 2023. He was primarily there to discuss the onward planning aspects of the Project Sunrise non-stop flights between Sydney (SYD) and London-Heathrow (LHR) and New York-JFK (JFK).  

Wallace confirmed that both Chicago and Seattle are on Qantas’ radar, stating that they are both key target markets for the airline.  

“We’ve been looking at markets in the States,” Wallace added. “We’ve got a good business in the States because it diversifies – we’ve got JFK, we’ve got LA, and we have San Francisco, but we can look at other places in the States.” 

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Qantas had initially secured Brisbane-Chicago flights, which were due to commence in April 2020, although the COVID pandemic disrupted the launch. Given that the route would be the only non-stop connection between Australia and Chicago, it remains a valuable opportunity for Qantas to establish a lucrative monopoly on the key route. 

Seattle emerges as another prospective destination for Qantas, especially by using its Boeing 787s. The route is similar in length and would offer similar levels of business traffic as that found on Qantas’ existing trans-Pacific journey between Sydney and Vancouver. 

Another incentive for Qantas in Seattle could be the oneworld alliance membership of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. The alliance affiliation could potentially result in network synergies between the two carriers, contributing to a substantial influx of inbound tourism on Sydney-Seattle flights through the alliance partnership. 

Alongside several potential new destinations in the US, Qantas is eyeing possible expansion in Europe beyond its three planned routes of London, Paris, and Rome. According to the airline, Qantas remains optimistic about adding a further European destination to that list.  

New aircraft, new routes 

Qantas’ expansion plans are constantly changing due to the abilities and efficiencies of new aircraft entering the fleet. The airline is expecting 12 more 787-9 Dreamliners (eight 787-10 and four 787-9) along with its order for 24 Ultra-long-range Airbus A350-1000 to open up various new long-haul routes.  

Elsewhere, other new fleet additions are causing the carrier to evaluate routes that once would have been uneconomical to operate. 


The imminent introduction of “game-changing” Airbus A220 and A321XLR aircraft into the Qantas fleet means that new markets may open up for Qantas on the international stage.  

The A321XLR, renowned for its extended range, particularly opens up substantial opportunities in Asia. In contrast, the A220, with its impressive range capabilities, is being lined up by the Qantas Group positioned to address both domestic and short-range international routes. 

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