QANTAS is adding another string to its bow of aviation firsts by launching the first point-to-point non-stop flights between London and Australia – a 17-hour connection.
Qantas will operate non-stop flights from Perth to London using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The 14,498km service will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe when it begins in March 2018.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the history-making route would be a watershed for travel, tourism and trade.
“When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth non-stop,” Mr Joyce said.
“This is a game-changing route flown by a game-changing aircraft. Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge.
“It’s great news for travellers because it will make it easier to get to London. It’s great news for Western Australia because it will bring jobs and tourism. And it’s great news for the nation, because it will bring us closer to one of our biggest trade partners and sources of visitors.”
In 2015, Qantas operated a one-off B747-400 charter flight from Perth to Istanbul to take Australians to the Centenary of Anzac at Gallipoli – the last time the national carrier flew from Australia to Europe non-stop.
Mr Joyce said passenger comfort on the long flight was a key consideration in the airline’s planning.
“When we designed the interior of our B787s, we wanted to make sure passengers would be comfortable on the extended missions the aircraft was capable of,” he said.
“That’s why we have features in our Economy seats that other airlines reserve for Premium Economy. Our Business Suite has been nicknamed ‘mini First class’ by many of our frequent flyers. And we’re redesigning our on-board service to help reduce jetlag.”
Mr Joyce said the enhanced Qantas cabin design is in addition to the comfort factors that Boeing built in to the Dreamliner – improved air quality, lower cabin noise and technology to reduce turbulence.
Mr Joyce said the direct route is expected to appeal to travellers on the East Coast as well as West Australians, helping to deliver a tourism boost.
“A direct flight makes travelling to Australia a much more attractive proposition to millions of people,” Mr Joyce said. “We expect many travellers from Europe will start their time in Australia with a visit to Perth before going on to see other parts of the country.
“Our modelling shows that people from the East Coast as well as South Australia would fly domestically to Perth to connect to our non-stop London service. Some will take the opportunity to break their journey, whether it’s for business meetings in Perth, to holiday or to visit family.”
The new flight will operate through Qantas’ existing domestic terminals (T3/4), which will be upgraded to accommodate international flights. The airline’s current international services from Perth (to Singapore and to Auckland) will also move to this terminal, helping to simplify the journey for thousands of people every year.
Qantas will move its operations to an expanded Terminal 1 at Perth Airport by 2025, pending a commercial agreement.
“We’ll be looking at the timing of our domestic flights through Perth to offer the best connections we can to our international flights, particularly given they will all be under the one roof,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the West Australian Government and Perth Airport in helping make this service a reality.”
Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo said, “With a range of around 15,000 kilometres, the Boeing 787 has the potential to open even more non-stop destinations with which Australia has never been connected.
“The United Kingdom is Australia's third largest source market for international visitors. More than 660,000 tourists came to Australia from the United Kingdom in the last year, spending $3.7 billion.”
Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017 for the first services in March 2018. The B787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.