Qantas' Wally Mariani Talks A380s, Trips of a Lifetime

Travel Agent recently met with Wally Mariani, Qantas Airways’ senior executive vice president for the Americas and the Pacific, who gave us an update on Qantas’ new Airbus A380 airplane and how it is affecting American traffic to Australia.

Qantas Airways recently increased its A380 services between the United States and Australia, with daily service between Los Angeles and Sydney and three flights per week between Los Angeles and Melbourne. The move from six to 10 A380 services per week between the two countries followed the recent delivery of the airline’s fifth and sixth aircraft.

The increase in service was implemented due to increased demand—with recent lower fares, Mariani said, traffic to Sydney has risen dramatically. (As an example, A380 flights to Sydney from L.A. or San Francisco start at $798, and flights from New York start at $998.) Likewise, the misconception that Australia is all but inaccessible to Americans with limited vacation time is also being disproven. It is as easy to get from California to Australia, Mariani pointed out, as it is to get from New York to Italy. With the increased accessibility of Australia to Americans, the island nation is no longer a “once in a lifetime” trip.

As for the planes themselves, they look simply stunning. Designed by Marc Newson and offering food by Neil Perry, the planes avoid all the negative trappings that make long-haul flights a chore. First class passengers get their own suites; business class seats become private flat beds; premium economy seats are comparable to first class seats on short-haul flights; and economy seats have “footrest nets” to keep lets comfortable.

Perhaps most significantly, Qantas, Mariani said, will be the only airline with A380 jets flying between the U.S. and Australia for the next five years, as no other airlines flying that route have ordered the new planes.