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Qantas to launch non-stop flights from Brisbane to Chicago as part of American Airlines joint venture
Qantas is planning flights from Brisbane to Chicago and to San Francisco once the US government firms up its tentative approval for the Australian carrier's joint business with American Airlines.
The US Department of Transportation's tentative approval for the plan gives the airlines permission under anti-trust law to cooperate.
Interested parties now have two weeks to respond, with a final decision expected in a few weeks.
The approval would allow the airlines to cooperate on pricing, sales, lounges and frequent flyer activities between the US and Australia, and between the US and New Zealand.
The airlines will be able to launch routes to new destinations, including city pairs not served by either carrier, and have a expanded codeshare relationship.
"As part of the case put to the DOT, Qantas and American flagged an intention to launch several new routes within the first two years of the proposed joint business," Qantas said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Qantas expects to announce details of two new routes - Brisbane-Chicago and Brisbane-San Francisco - once final approval is received."
Regulators in Australia and New Zealand have already approved the plan.
Delta and Virgin Australia, and United and Air New Zealand have similar joint businesses, but US regulators in 2016 denied a similar request from Qantas and American to cooperate.
Flying to Chicago currently takes almost 20 hours via Los Angeles. Qantas will fly Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on the route.
Brisbane-Chicago is the latest route in Qantas' plan for ultra-long-haul flights around the world. Last year the airline launched the first ever non-stop flights to London from Perth. The distance from Brisbane to Chicago is 14,354 kilometres, comparable to the 14,498 kilometres from Perth to London - a flight that takes 17 hours.
Qantas' Project Sunrise aims for even longer flights, with a plan to fly non-stop from Australia's eastern capitals to both London and New York.
The airline has challenged manufacturers Boeing and Airbus to come up with a plane that can cover the vast distances required. The likely contenders are the Boeing 777x or the Airbus A350. Final submissions to the airline are expected by August.