Qantas has a message for Americans who have been watching the ferocious bushfires that devastated parts of Australia: much of the country remains untouched and is very much open for business.
The Australian carrier Sunday launched a new route connecting Queensland capital Brisbane with San Francisco for the first time and also plans to connect Brisbane with Chicago in April.
Both routes will be cross-promoted by the Australian carrier’s US partner, American Airlines.
They come as Australian tourism faces a particularly tough year as a result of the bush fires and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its biggest source of overseas tourists, China.
The new routes will use the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners and save travelers about four hours compared to current one-stop options.
The 12 hour 40-minute, 11,367km Brisbane-San Francisco service will operate three times weekly and the route complements direct daily Sydney-San Francisco flights and a four-times-weekly service from Melbourne.
Qantas says it will continue to promote Queensland destinations in the US market throughout the year to attract American visitors to the many iconic destinations unaffected by the heavily reported bush fires. This includes the famous Great Barrier Reef.
“It’s been a difficult start to the year for Australian tourism but new routes like this help to stimulate interest and bring more visitors,’’ Qantas International Chief executive Tino La Spina said in an announcement marking the new flights.
“The message we’re sending to the US is that Australia is very much open for business and it’s easier than ever to get here.”
The Queensland government estimates the 73,632 inbound seats from the San Francisco service will generate about $A67.1 million ($US44.8m) annually and create about 700 jobs.
“We know direct aviation access is key to growing our state’s tourism industry and that’s why we’re continuously working with our partners to explore new opportunities for Queensland,” State Tourism Minister Kate Jones said.
American tourists have proved resilient in the face of previous global health scares and the US visitor market is fourth biggest for Brisbane Airport in terms of passenger numbers.
The market grew by 10.5 percent in 2019, despite a reduction in direct seat capacity, with about 185,000 US passengers traveling through the airport.
“Relative to the size of the market and overall demand, Queensland has been under-served from the USA, so these direct Qantas flights will go some way to addressing pent-up demand,’’ Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff, said.