Qantas Airways is launching a new route which looks set to be one of the longest in the world.
The kangaroo route will see planes flying directly from Perth to London. The journey will take passengers 17 hours but there will not be any stopovers or changes. The route will mark the first time any airline has launched direct flights between the UK and Australia.
When UK to to Australia were first launched in the 1940s, passengers faced seven stopovers and a four day trip.
This new and more convenient direct route is possible because of advances aeronautics. Companies such as Airbus and Boeing have produced better designed and more fuel efficient aircraft which can travel even further before needing to stop to refuel.
The kangaroo route will use Boeing’s 787-9 Dreamliner, an aircraft with a range of 7,635 miles, for Perth to London.
The first flights on the route will begin on Saturday 24 March 2018.
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What has Qantas said about the new route?
While this news will no doubt prove exciting for frequent flyers to Australia, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has made clear the route will not necessarily be ideal for all customers. Instead, the route will be aimed at ‘premium’ flyers:
“People want to get to their destinations without stopping. The big driver for passengers is they save time: on Perth to London it is three hours. With a bigger focus on premium passengers, we think we can make the economics work.”
Accordingly, the Dreamliner used for the route will have a maximum capacity of 246 passengers. A standard Dreamliner has a capacity of 335 passengers. The lower number is due to the fact that Qantas are squeezing 17% more premium seats (business and premium economy classes) onto the plane compared to the Airbus A380 used for the Sydney to London service.
Tickets will also be premium. Standard economy tickets will cost £792, and up to at least £3,053 in business class.
The Perth to London route marks the latest step towards Qantas’ ‘Project Sunrise’.
This was a challenge Joyce issued in August 2017 to both Airbus and Boeing. He wants both to work on designing aircraft which can carry passengers on a 20-hour flight from Sydney to London directly.
The 10,500 mile route would be the longest passenger route in existence. That outstrips Qatar Airways’ 9,000 mile Doha to Auckland direct route, and Singapore Airlines’ 9,500 mile Singapore to New York route which will launch later in 2018.
Qantas has set a target of 2022 to launch Project Sunrise. It is in talks with both Airbus and Boeing to find ways to design the planes to ensure the route is economical.