By Winston Shek
American Airlines Pulls Out of Australia, Terminates Los Angeles to Sydney Flight
Last month, American Airlines announced the temporary suspension of flights between Los Angeles and Sydney through September and October, per the Executive Traveler. Based on schedule filings from theaeronetwork, the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline has removed the route from its network from September through the summer of 2022.
In July, the Australian government halved the caps on the number of passengers allowed into the “land down under,” only allowing 3,505 passengers to travel to Australia each week through 2022. From Sydney, Australia capped the number of passengers allowed into the country to 1,505 passengers each week, forcing American Airlines to convert passenger flights inbound to Sydney to cargo-only flights.
Later in July, American Airlines pulled its flights from September 1 to October 28 – the start of the IATA Northern Winter schedule. An American Airlines spokesman stated to Executive Traveler that “Due to the ongoing travel restrictions surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), American is suspending customer and cargo flights between Los Angeles and Sydney between September 1 and October 28.”
Before the complete removal of Los Angeles to Sydney from schedules, American Airlines refused to accept booking of its route through mid-January of 2022 due to uncertainty over Australia’s border reopening. In May, Reuters reported that Australian borders might remain closed until the summer of 2022, hurting prospects of an American Airlines resumption during the winter of 2021.
American Airlines will probably resume flights when Australian borders reopen, though it is uncertain when the country will reopen its borders. Recently, cities like Sydney and Melbourne were placed under lockdown amid a COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak.
Currently, Delta Airlines and United Airlines are the only other carriers operating flights between Australia and the United States. Delta Airlines operates an Airbus A350-900 daily between Los Angeles and Sydney, while United Airlines operates a daily Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flight from Los Angeles to Sydney and San Francisco to Sydney. Both carriers have not announced a pullback in service as of the time of writing.
American Airlines started its first Sydney flights in 1970 via its Boeing 707 LuxuryLiner before ceasing flights to Sydney in 1975. In 1983, the carrier had a brief stint after the cancellation of Northwest Airlines’ Australia routes. Later, in 1990, American Airlines operated the Douglas DC-10 to Sydney before terminating the flight in 1992.
In December 2015, American Airlines resumed flights from Los Angeles to Sydney with its Boeing 777-300ER, before downgrading it to a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Later in 2019, American Airlines launched its joint venture with Qantas Airways, upgrading it from a previous codeshare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the passenger flight was suspended until October 2020, when the route resumed with a combination of cargo-only and passenger services.
Pre-COVID-19, American Airlines flew to two destinations in Australia and New Zealand: Sydney and Auckland. Moreover, the Fort Worth-based carrier planned to serve Christchurch, New Zealand via Los Angeles and add new nonstop flights from Dallas to Auckland to expand the scope of its joint venture with Qantas Airways.
Pre-pandemic, flights between Los Angeles and Sydney saw five carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Qantas, United Airlines and Virgin Australia. Currently, based on tentative schedule filings, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and Qantas Airways will be the only carriers operating the route for the summer of 2022. Joint-venture partner Qantas Airways is slated to utilize its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 42 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats and 166 economy seats.