Wally Mariani // (c) 2011 Qantas
Qantas announced last January that it was expanding it’s international service to include Dallas-Fort Worth as a new gateway. Wally Mariani, senior executive vice president for The Americas and Pacific and a longtime veteran of the airline, spoke to TravelAge West about the new route and the enhanced alliance with American Airlines.
Qantas launched a new route from DFW to Australia May. How frequent are these flights and what kind of aircraft are you be using?
We offer four direct flights a week from DFW to Sydney via Brisbane and four nonstops on the return from Sydney to DFW. On this route, we operate Boeing 747 aircraft offering Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy. And once we get the approvals, it’s our intention to have daily service.
Is there any thought of using the A380 on this route?
At this point the A380 will continue to operate between Los Angeles and Australia and between London and Australia. We now have seven A380s per week flying from Los Angeles to Sydney, and two per week from L.A. to Melbourne.
The DFW to Sydney service is obviously enhanced by the OneWorld alliance with American Airlines. What advantage does this alliance give you in the U.S. market?
With the launch of our DFW service we are now flying directly into AA’s primary hub. From DFW, Qantas code shares to 54 American Airlines destinations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, so this makes Australia more accessible and more convenient to visit from many places. And American Airlines has changed the times of some of its flights to provide better connections to Qantas. We intend to deepen our partnership with AA, and are seeking relevant regulatory approvals for an expanded relationship.
Can you be specific?
Well, as part of the new commercial arrangement, AA vacations, the wholly owned tour operator of American Airlines, will look to launch a comprehensive range of Australian and Asia-Pacific land, air and integrated vacations for the U.S. market designed to grow U.S. leisure travel to Australia and the region. That will definitely happen.
How will this new route affect your Los Angeles to Australia service?
The new route complements our Los Angeles to Australia services. LAX continues to be an important gateway for Qantas in the U.S. and our services between L.A. and Australia and New Zealand will continue. But in order to have the capacity to serve DFW direct, we are no longer operating our own aircraft into SFO. However San Francisco remains an important part of our network as a code share destination thanks to our relationship with AA.
You've been with the airline for quite a few years. What is the single biggest change you've seen in your time there?
We are always changing and innovating and that’s what makes the business so interesting. Obviously one of the major changes is the technology and the comfort of travelling on the new generation wide body aircraft such as the A380. Planes keep getting bigger, quieter, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient. In the old days when I started, for example, we didn’t have Internet booking. We had to manually put a person’s name on a card in the reservations and sales center. Then that card traveled on a conveyor belt into a room where the cards were sorted by flight. When a flight was full, we it would be color-coded on big board and we’d close it out. That was in 1965!