Qantas and American Airlines have announced a significant expansion of flying across the Pacific and opened up the possibility of flights through New Zealand.

In a deal announced this morning the US carrier will fly from Los Angeles to Sydney for the first time and Qantas will return to San Francisco.

In a statement the airlines said ''the enhanced relationship also provides opportunities for future growth into trans-Pacific markets not currently served by either airline, such as New Zealand.''

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Qantas last flew between Auckland and the United States in 2012 and American Airlines has long been rumoured in the travel industry as a possible entrant to the transpacific where Air New Zealand has a monopoly on direct flights.

Qantas and American said the deal was a big expansion of their long standing relationship.

''This expansion represents a natural evolution of the existing alliance between Qantas and American, providing the airlines with a platform for further growth, closer commercial ties, and an even more seamless customer experience on routes between North America and Australia/New Zealand.''

As part of the changes, the Qantas and American Airlines joint venture will shift to a revenue share agreement.

Qantas will return to the Sydney-San Francisco route from December 20,
Services will initially operate on peak days and ramp up to six per week in January 2016 using its newer Boeing 747- 400 aircraft with the same style interiors found on the airline's A380s.

Qantas' flights to San Francisco are made possible by American Airlines starting a direct daily Sydney to Los Angeles service from December 19.

This will replace four Qantas' B747 Sydney to Los Angeles services per week and one Qantas B747 Melbourne to Los Angeles service per week.

American Airlines' Trans-Pacific flights will be operated by its new B777-300ER .
Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce, said the expanded relationship was good news for travellers, the local tourism industry and the corporate market.


"American Airlines is one of our most important alliance partners, and this deal strengthens the long-standing ties between us to provide a platform for future growth across the Pacific. At its heart, this is about delivering an enhanced network and better service for customers of both airlines well into the future," he said.