Delta and V Australia to break duopoly

UNITED and Qantas’ long-held duopoly on the Los Angeles-Sydney route will be broken next year. Sir Richard Branson’s new V Australia Airlines will start daily flights of B777s from 27 February 2009 while Delta will start them from 1 July.

United and Qantas have dominated the route between themselves since the early 1990s when Pan American folded. Including Australia to its routes will make Delta the only US carrier to fly all six non-polar.

The route is considered the jewel in Delta’s crown but since its brush with bankruptcy in 2006 it has been more conservative with its routes, cutting rather than adding. This has allowed more competition, especially since Delta merged with Northwest this autumn and also on its Chinese routes where there has been an influx of competitors this year. In addition, instead of buying new aircraft Delta is busy refurbishing older aircraft instead.

Of course Delta is still the largest US Pacific carrier so it remains to be seen whether a challenge to its throne will rouse it into action once again.

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