It's taken a while, but it looks like competition is finally hotting up on the Australia-US route. To fly that sector, airlines have to be either US or Australian owned, which has meant in recent years Qantas has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the route (US airlines largely lacking the resources to run profitably in their own market, let alone a smaller long-haul route.) The only US competition has been from United, about whose B-grade service the less said the better. But things are improving. It's suffered a delayed start, but Virgin's new offshoot VAustralia is due to make its first flights to the US early in the new year, and now over the weekend Delta has also announced plans to fly Sydney-LA from July 2009. As the Australian's Steve Creedy points out, that means more activity for Skyteam, the third major global frequent flyer program (alongside OneWorld and Star Alliance). All of that should potentially mean lower prices, a wider range of flying times for Stateside travellers, and possibly better connections -- though I won't be getting too excited until I see a timetable and a price schedule.