Qantas non-stop flights from Perth to London possible on new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Qantas might soon surpass its own claim to the world's longest direct flight with an even longer haul.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said new aircraft would potentially mean the airline could fly from Australia to Britain non-stop within two years.

He said the range of the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner meant flights from Perth to London, a journey of more than 14,000 kilometres, would be feasible. 

"The 787-9 has the range to operate such a route," Joyce told Air Transport World. "This opens up direct service from Australia to Europe for the first time."

The route would not be without its challenges. In order to make the distance, the flight would likely have to pass over the Crimea, which is currently off-limits to airlines in the wake of last year's shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. 

It could also raise issues on the return journey if an alternative airport to Perth was needed (due to thunderstorms, for example). The nearest major airport is Adelaide, more than 2000 kilometres further on.

Joyce also indicated the airline might begin direct flights from Melbourne to Dallas – a route that would be similar in distance to the Perth-London flight.

Qantas has eight 787-9 aircraft on order to replace the its ageing 747 jumbo jets. 

The 787-9s will have about 250 seats, including business class, premium economy and economy class.

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Qantas already flies the longest route (by distance) in the world, Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth, a 13,800-kilometre haul that takes about 14 hours. Qantas took the title from Singapore Airlines, which previously flew a non-stop flight from Singapore to New York, a distance of 16,700 kilometres. 

However, this year Emirates announced it is planning an ultra-long haul flight from Dubai to Panama from February 2016, covering a distance of 13,821 kilometres in a Boeing 777-200LR, the longest range airliner available today. The 777-200LR has a range of up to 17,000 kilometres, according to Boeing. 

Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, has indicated it would like to return to its direct New York route, and hopes the new Airbus A350 aircraft will make the route economical again. 

Singapore's longest haul was a business class-only flight and high-end travellers would be crucial to the success of the planned Qantas route. 

Whether passengers would be willing to sit in a cramped economy class seat for 18 hours or more remains to be seen. 

The ultra-rich might have a quicker alternative: Richard Branson recently told traveller.com.au he expects his space flight company Virgin Galactic to be making the journey from Australia to London in less than two hours within a generation.

See also: Flight test: Qantas economy class
See also: Best airlines across all classes named

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