One of Qantas' newest A380 aircraft, VH-OQI, departs Melbourne on 17 April.
An article on LAX's terminal expansion from California paper Contra Costa Times offers this small but interesting nugget: "Qantas intends to add a third A380 jetliner to its Los Angeles routes in 2012".
A Qantas spokesman could not be drawn to comment on Qantas adding a third A380 to its LAX route. "I don't think that's what the article says," he says. He explains he thinks the article means Qantas will add a third aircraft to the total number of A380 aircraft Qantas rotates for the LAX route.
It is a very good explanation--evasion?--except that with a daily LAX route from Sydney and an almost daily LAX route from Melbourne, Qantas already has four A380 aircraft on the LAX rotation.
(If I've lost you, consider this: given the 14 hour flying time between Australia and California, when Qantas A380s depart Sydney and Melbourne for Los Angeles, there are already two A380s at LAX preparing to fly back to Australia. Thus, Qantas cannot add a third aircraft since it already has four on the rotation. Thus a third route is likely. If you are wondering, the writer of the Contra Costa article declined to comment on the record.)
There is a view that Qantas adding another A380 to the LAX route is unsurprising given the A380 will eventually replace almost all of the carrier's Boeing 747-400s. Fair enough. What is interesting is the timing, both for Qantas and its competitors.
For Qantas, the carrier will soon start taking delivery of A380s that have fewer premium seats. It will also reconfigure its existing A380 aircraft to reduce premium seat count. Would such an A380 configuration be appropriate for the Brisbane-Los Angeles route, typically operated by a 747 without first class? Or would Qantas want to put the A380 on its second SYD-LAX flight?
For Delta and V Australia, could this A380 LAX deployment be a preemptive strike against their anti-trust immunity, if granted, as well as possible new routes and services arising from the alliance?
The deployment of an A380 to LAX could give insight into Qantas' outlook for its Asian and European routes, but other new A380 aircraft could be deployed to those markets--notably Hong Kong. For that, it is too early to comment.
For reference, consider the A380 deployment schedule Qantas envisioned when ordering the aircraft.