Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce is expecting huge growth in the US market as the airline saddles up for another year sponsoring the G’Day USA initiative.
The G’Day USA program for 2017 was officially launched inside Hangar 96 at Qantas’s Mascot base on Friday, with Joyce alongside Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steve Ciobo and other invited guests.
The airline has been a long-time sponsor of G’Day USA, which was established in 2004 to promote Australia’s tourism, business, defence and cultural opportunities in the United States.
That support of G’Day USA has endured even as Qantas fell out with Tourism Australia in 2012, when Joyce withdrew funding support for the national tourism body, saying at the time it was no longer possible to work with the organisation given its then-chairman Geoff Dixon was among a group of investors who were pushing for change at the airline.
However, in June 2015 Dixon stepped down as chairman and in August 2016 Qantas signed a $20 million joint marketing deal with Tourism Australia, ending the four-year quarrel.
And Joyce flagged boosting Qantas’s joint-marketing partnership with Tourism Australia during his remarks at the official G’Day USA launch.
“In the last year, what’s been great is that Qantas has reengaged now with Tourism Australia,” Joyce told invited guests and media.
“We’ll be making some bigger investments I think at G’Day USA on how we take that to the next level.”
Joyce noted the Australia-US market grew by about 10 per cent in the past year, with Qantas tapping into the rise passenger numbers through new routes such as Sydney-San Francisco and the upgauging of Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth to the Airbus A380 and boosting the service to daily.
“We’re the longest operating carrier on that route and today Qantas is bigger than all other airlines on the US route put together,” Joyce said of the trans-Pacific market.
“We’re expanding the market, a market that we see huge growth with.”
However, the airline’s plans for North America were dealt a blow in November when the US Department of Transportation (DOT) rejected an application for anti-trust immunity for a metal-neutral, revenue-sharing partnership with American Airlines.
Joyce said the impending arrival of the Boeing 787-9 into the fleet from October 2017 would allow the oneworld alliance member to further expand its presence in North America.
He said the 787-9 would “change the dynamic in North America by allowing us to fly longer routes than we’ve ever flown before” and allow Qantas to “grow the market even further”.
“We’re so excited about how the future looks,” Joyce said.
Potential routes for the next generation aircraft include Sydney-Chicago, Melbourne-Dallas/Fort Worth and Perth-London.
Bishop said the Australia’s relationship with the United States was the country’s most important and described G’Day USA as a great “public diplomacy initiative”.
“In a time of unprecedented change, with ever-shifting global dynamics it is more important than ever to treasure the long-standing relationships, to recognise the enduring nature of a relationship that has survived the good times and the tough times,” Bishop said.
“And there is no more important relationship for Australia than ours with the United States of America.
“The United States is our region’s security guarantor, our major defence partner, the largest source of foreign direct investment into our country and our second largest trading partner in goods and services.”
“Like any relationship it has to be nurtured, should never be taken for granted and this is where G’Day USA comes into its own.”
Figures from the G’Day USA website showed the program of events reached 100 million people and contributed more than one trillion dollars in Australia-US mutual investment in 2015. The 2017 program will feature events in New York, Los Angeles, and, for the first time, Austin, Texas.
Joyce said the G’Day USA events was extremely effective in getting the attention of consumers.
“It has contributed a huge amount to cut through and in a very noisy media market these days getting cut through is really key,” Joyce said.
The US is Australia’s fourth largest tourism market by visitor numbers behind New Zealand (1st), China (2nd) and the United Kingdom (3rd).