QANTAS has suffered a further hiccup on its new flights to Dallas, but the airline says it is confident the route is a viable one.
Australian-bound Qantas flight QF 8 was on the way from Dallas/Fort Worth to Brisbane when pilots decided to make an unscheduled stop at Noumea to refuel because of what the airline described as “stronger-than-forecast” headwinds.
The aircraft, an extended range Boeing 747-400ER, was on the ground at La Tontouta International airport for about 90 minutes, and passengers landed in Brisbane two hours later than scheduled this morning (AEST).
QF 8 then continued on to Sydney.
Qantas spokesman Thomas Woodward said the airline was still gaining operational experience on the young route, with Dallas/Fort Worth the national flag carrier’s first new destination since Buenos Aires in 2008.
“I think it is still a bit too early to draw any overarching conclusions, but obviously if we think there are going to be ongoing issues, then we have to take a look at that,” Mr Woodward said.
“We wouldn’t have launched a route if we didn’t think it was viable from a flight operations point of view.”
This latest incident is the third to strike the Flying Kangaroo since the inaugural flight left Sydney bound for Dallas/Fort Worth on May 16.
Last week, Qantas had to leave about three containers of luggage behind in Dallas/Fort Worth because of load restrictions due to unseasonably strong headwinds.
Also, one flight from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth had to land in Houston because of thunderstorms at the north Texas gateway, causing about a two-hour delay.
The airline said this was “simply a weather-related diversion”.
The Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth flights, which link Qantas with the biggest US hub for its Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines, is at 13,804 km the longest flight operated by a Boeing 747, measured by distance.
It is also the third-longest flight in the world, behind Singapore Airlines’ direct service from the city-state to Los Angeles (14,114 km)and Newark (15,345 kilometres).
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said previously the airline is likely to switch the 747 to Boeing 787 Dreamliners when they became available.
Meanwhile, Qantas started its six-times-a-week 747 service from Sydney to Perth on Monday as part of a move announced in February to operate more wide-bodied aircraft to Perth from Australia’s east coast.