Qantas unveils Dreamliner
With more leg room and a new logo, Qantas has unveiled their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Qantas' non-stop flights from Perth to London officially go on sale at 11.30am on Thursday, allowing passengers to purchase tickets for the airline's first commercial non-stop services from Australia to the UK.
Fares will start from $2270 for a return economy fare, $4250 for premium economy and $9725 for business class, though Qantas said sale fares would likely be less than $2000.
The first flight will take off on March 24, 2018, departing Perth at 6.50pm and arriving in London at 5.10am the next day. The return leg will depart Heathrow at 1.30pm, arriving at Perth at 1.15pm the next day.
"This is a game-changing route flown by a game-changing aircraft," said Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, when he first announced the route. "Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge."
Qantas will fly a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the route, carrying 236 passengers. It is expected to take delivery of its first Dreamliner towards the end of this year. Qantas will put the first 787-9 on the Melbourne to Los Angeles route.
The airline also announced that the flight to London, QF9/10, will originate in Melbourne, so Melbourne passengers will be able to board the Dreamliner in that city before a short transit stop in Perth. Melbourne passengers will depart at 3.30pm and have a 90 minute wait in Perth before taking off for London.
The flight will replace the airline's current Melbourne-Dubai-London route. Melbourne to London economy fares on this route are expected to be the same price as those from Perth. At the same time, Qantas alliance partner Emirates will remove its Boeing 777s from its Melbourne flights, making Melbourne to Dubai an all-Airbus A380 superjumbo route.
Despite the epic distance, the 14,498 kilometre, 17-hour long-haul from Perth to London will not be the world's longest flight. That title will remain with Qatar Airways, who claimed it in February this year with its 14,535-kilometre Doha to Auckland non-stop flights.
Seventeen hours might seem like a long time, but compare that to when Qantas first launched its London service, nicknamed "the Kangaroo route", in 1947, when it took four days - and seven stops - to reach the UK.
Qantas has flown a non-stop flight from London to Australia once before, albeit one without any passengers on board. In 1989 Qantas flew a Boeing 747 jumbo jet from London to Sydney, carrying just 23 people including crew and using a special high density fuel to reduce weight. The plane that performed the flight has now been retired and is on display in Shellharbour.
Qantas said the new route will typically cut about three hours from the travel time for passengers flying from Perth to London via current routes, with travel time being about 90 minutes shorter for passengers departing from Melbourne.
Joyce expects Perth to be a big winner from the flights, with overseas visitors flying into the Western Australian capital rather than to the east coast.
"This route makes Western Australia a new tourism gateway for Australia. We know from our research that there's a lot of appetite to explore the west, not just from British and European visitors but also from Aussies on their way to London. A lot of business travellers, particularly in the resources sector, will stop off in Perth on their way to the UK."
It's also expected that Australians in other cities will opt to take a domestic connection to Perth and switch to the new London route there, rather than flying through the traditional hubs of Asia and the Middle East.
Listen: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater
To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.