Qantas, Australia’s flagship airline, resumed flights from Sydney to San Francisco last month after suspending the route in mid-2011. Arriving in San Francisco International Airport on the morning of December 18th, Qantas Flight 73 marked the first of six weekly Sydney-San Francisco Flights that Qantas now operates as part of its growing list of US destinations, including Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth. The historic flight carried even more significance thanks to the sister city relationship between Sydney and San Francisco formed in 1968, built upon the rich cultural and business ties between the two coastal cities. Reaffirming the relationship, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee proclaimed the 18th of December as "Qantas Day".
Qantas’ codeshare partner American Airlines also commenced a new Los Angeles to Sydney route on December 19th. The new routes build upon an already robust list of nonstop flights between the US and cities across the Asia Pacific region. In 2014-15, an unprecedented 551,000 Americans flew to Australia, up 8% over the previous year. Some of the rise in tourism rates has been attributed to a weaker Australian dollar making it a more affordable destination for American tourists. California has also benefitted, with Australian tourists contributing $935 million to the state’s economy, more than any other American state. In total, the US-Australian tourism market is valued at almost $9.5 billion across both nations.
New technology will enable further transport links between the US and Australia, as both tourism and business interests have proven the demand. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has discussed the potential of a Melbourne to Dallas route made possible through the acquisition of the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Qantas and American Airlines also recently announced further plans to introduce new routes between the two nations over the next five years in a submission to the United States Department of Transportation.
Edward Chang is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Sydney.