Qantas has announced plans to offer non-stop flights to London and New York from Australia’s eastern cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – within the next five years.
The national carrier’s non-stop Perth-to-London flights aboard the brand-new Dreamliner aircraft will take off for the first time in early 2018; adding east coast routes seems a natural progression.
There’s one catch: currently, no aircraft that can fly the distance without a stopover for refuelling. So, the airline has issued a challenge to Boeing and Airbus: deliver a plane that can fly all the way to London or New York from the east coast, without stopping over, by 2022.
There are two next-generation aircraft in development at the moment – Boeing’s 777X and a long-range version of the Airbus A350 – that come close to flying these distances with a full load of passengers and luggage. Qantas wants the manufacturers to extend the range of the aircraft in time for the new routes to be launched in five years’ time.
“From next year we’ll be flying direct from Perth to London, which is a huge leap forward. We believe advances in technology in the next few years will make Sydney to London direct a possibility and Qantas is well placed to be the airline to do it," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at a press conference this morning.
“Any aircraft purchase would have to meet strict financial thresholds, but these direct flights would be revolutionary for air travel in Australia.”
It’s expected a flight from Sydney to London would take 20 hours and 20 minutes (current journey time including one stopover is 24 hours and five minutes) and Sydney to New York would take18 hours and seven minutes (current journey time with one stopover: 20 hours and 50 minutes).
Just think: no putting away laptops and returning seats to an upright position, no disembarking and no interrupted sleep. No having to switch off your inflight entertainment right in the middle of a TV marathon, no aimless airport wandering with plane hair, and no reboarding and resettling.
The new Dreamliners, the Perth-to-London route and the plans for direct east coast to London and New York flights are all part of Qantas’s focus on improving passenger comfort and minimising the effects of jetlag on long-haul flights. The new aircraft would replace Qantas’s fleet of Boeing 747s.
And if you think 20 hours is still a long time to be sitting on a plane, spare a thought for the passengers on the original Sydney to London Kangaroo route: in 1947 the trip took four days and seven stops.