The world's largest passenger aircraft is now flying the world's longest route after Qantas replaced its Boeing 747s with Airbus A380 superjumbos on the Sydney-Dallas route.
The flight covers a whopping 13,800 kilometres and takes a little more than 15 hours.
The Qantas Sydney-Dallas route became the longest non-stop flight in the world late last year after Singapore Airlines ended its non-stop flights from Singapore to New York, a 19-hour slog that covered 16,700 kilometres on a four-engine Airbus A340-500. The flights, which were business class only, had struggled to maintain profitability because of rising oil prices.
The new A380 service will operate six flights per week between Dallas/Fort Worth and Sydney (every day except Tuesdays), increasing the number of seats on the route by 10 per cent. The longer range of the A380 means that the return flight, which previously had to fly via Brisbane, will now fly direct to Sydney from Dallas.
"Not only will the A380 increase seats on the route by more than 10 per cent each week, it will also provide us with greater fuel efficiency and the range to operate the return service direct back to Sydney," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
Qantas recently announced increased services to the US, and now offers 41 services per week to North America. About half of these services are operated by A380 aircraft.
The first A380 flight to Dallas departs from Sydney airport at 1.10pm on Monday.
The longest A380 flight by time in the air is run by Emirates, which flies superjumbos direct from Dubai to Los Angeles in a 16-hour, 20-minute haul that covers 13,420 kilometres.
Qantas began flying to Dallas in 2011, in a moved aimed at providing better connections to the rest of the US via its domestic partner American Airlines, which is based in Dallas/Fort Worth.
The launch was not without some teething problems as the distance pushed the range of the 747-400ER to its limit. On one occasion some passengers' luggage had to be offloaded to reduce the weight of the plane due to an increase in headwinds and one flight was forced to land in New Caledonia to refuel, again due to strong headwinds.
Joyce said similar problems were not expected with the A380.
"This aircraft is a longer-range aircraft so it is a better payload range than the 747s which were operating on the route previously," he said. "We believe that over the last four years we have experienced a lot of information, a lot of knowledge on how to operate these long sectors. And we believe this aircraft will operate very successfully on this route."
Joyce admitted some times of the year the flights would have a restriction on the number of passengers the A380 could carry on the route.
"There are restrictions at certain times of the year when the headwinds have been very strong, like on the 747."
- with Jamie Freed