Melbourne gets direct San Francisco link

by James Wilkinson

Qantas launched the first ever direct flight between Melbourne and San Francisco, making it easier to travel between the two cities and reducing travel times.

The airline will operate four return flights per week on the route with Qantas’ new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the direct flights were a win for the 60,000 travellers who currently need to make a stop when travelling between Melbourne and San Francisco.

“This is great news for Victorians, as they will have direct flights to San Francisco for the very first time,” said Ms Webster.

“This will reduce travel times by at least two hours which means less time in the air and more time to explore or work in San Francisco.

“Travel between the United States and Australia continues to grow – with a 13 per cent increase in visitors to Australia in the past year.”

The flight is numbered QF49 in recognition of the city’s symbolic references to the number 49 dating back to the California Gold Rush of 1849, including the local San Francisco 49ers American Football team.

Qantas operates 13 return direct flights from Melbourne and the US each week, including 6 direct flights per week between Sydney and San Francisco. From San Francisco, Qantas codeshare customers can connect onwards to 36 destinations across North America with Qantas’ airline partners.

Webster said the direct flights would connect the Silicon Valley with Melbourne’s growing start-up industry.

“This will allow more entrepreneurs from both countries to explore opportunities and share ideas,” she said.

“Ninety-eight years ago, Qantas was a start-up itself and, in the years since, we have helped pioneer many breakthroughs in connecting Australians with the US. In July 1959, we operated the first ever commercial trans-Pacific jet passenger service on a Boeing 707 between Sydney and San Francisco.

“Although thankfully, unlike the 707 service which had to stop for fuel in Nadi and Honolulu, this flight is a comfortable non-stop overnight journey with passengers arriving in the city ready to make the most of their stay.”

Qantas’ Dreamliner carries 236 passengers across three cabins. It features the latest version of the airline’s Business Suite as well as a next generation Premium Economy seat and a significantly improved Economy seat with extra storage compartments and more legroom.