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Qantas to Add A380 Melbourne-to-London, L.A. Flights

Qantas Airways Ltd. plans to boost Airbus SAS A380 flights from Melbourne to London and Los Angeles as it expands its fleet of the world’s largest passenger plane.

The carrier intends to operate daily A380 flights to London via Singapore and a six-times-a-week service to L.A. by March 2011, it said in a statement on its website today. The expansion is tied to the delivery of four A380s, which will raise Qantas’s fleet to 10, according to the statement.

Australia’s biggest carrier is due to receive its seventh A380 in the fourth quarter, which will enable it to increase the Sydney-to-London superjumbo service to daily, it said. The airline is boosting A380 operations as a rebounding global economy revives international travel and as Airbus moves ahead with production of the plane following delays.

Qantas will also expand codesharing arrangements with British Airways Plc to cover six additional European cities, including Rome, Milan and Budapest. Codesharing deals allow carriers to sell tickets on each other’s planes.

Qantas rose 2 percent to A$2.50 at the close of trading in Sydney. The stock has fallen 16 percent this year compared with a 9 percent decline in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index.

The new services come as Sydney-based Qantas enters a A$44 million ($37 million) marketing agreement with Tourism Australia, the government agency that promotes visits to the nation.

The company’s “diverse” assets, including the Qantas-branded carrier, Jetstar budget unit and frequent flyer program enabled it to cope with the worst of the global downturn, Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said today.

“That has given us stability of earnings compared to the rest of the aviation industry,” Joyce told reporters in Adelaide. “By the end of this calendar year, the Qantas brand will become the most profitable carrier operating in the domestic market again.”

Second-ranked Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. last week cut its annual profit forecast as much as 75 percent.

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