Competition is heating up on trans-Pacific air routes as the major carriers introduce new services and upgraded aircraft between Australia and the United States.

Qantas will be the first to steal the limelight this month when the first of its much-hyped Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft makes its international debut on services between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

The new Qantas flagship has been operating domestic services since its delivery in October, and will replace the carrier’s aging Boeing 747s on the route from 15 Dec.

“We’ve taken delivery of hundreds of aircraft in our 98-year history but only a few of them have been game-changers like this one,” Qantas Group chief executive officer Alan Joyce said of his latest purchase. “It gives us a combination of flying range and passenger comfort that will change how people travel.”

Though it becomes the highest-profile Dreamliner operator across the Pacific, Qantas is by no means the first. American Airlines introduced its Boeing 787-9 planes on the Sydney-Los Angeles route at the end of October, replacing its 777 services.

It followed United Airlines which introduced its Dreamliners to Australian flights last year, initially on flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, followed by services from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

It will go one step further in January when it launches daily 787 flights from Sydney to Houston, allowing it to offer a greater choice of connections through its Texan hub and a swifter journey to key destinations in America’s east.

The move means United will go head-to-head with Qantas in offering a Texas gateway, mimicking the Flying Kangaroo’s existing route from Sydney to Dallas.

“We are delighted to provide travellers from Sydney with unparalleled easy access to the US and beyond through this new route launch,” said Alison Espley, United’s managing director of Japan and Pacific Sales. “United carefully planned this route with the convenience and comfort of our customers in mind so that we may provide them with a premier inflight service.”

Meanwhile Air New Zealand is positioning its own Dreamliner services as an alternative to direct flights between Australia and the US. Having this year upped its marketing to attract Australians on its services via New Zealand, the kiwi carrier launched direct 787 services from Adelaide to Auckland in October and is targeting South Australians who would otherwise have to change in Sydney or Melbourne for US flights.


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