Qantas goes ultra-long-haul from Perth to London
Australia’s Qantas Airways made history on Sunday morning when QF9 touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport, after a 17 hour nonstop flight from the western Australian city of Perth. Read More » The aircraft’s arrival in the UK was the first flight to link Australia and Europe without an intermediate stop in either Asia or the Middle East.
The industry will soon see the launch of more ultra-long-haul routes. Later this year, Singapore Airlines (SIA) will receive the first A350-900 ULR (ultra-long-range). It plans to use the aircraft to resume nonstop flights between Singapore and New York. Philippine Airlines also plans nonstop Manila-New York services with its incoming A350 fleet.
Qatar Airways holds the record for the longest nonstop flight - Doha-Auckland. Only slightly shorter is Emirates Airline’s Dubai-Auckland. Qantas also operates Sydney-Dallas nonstop.
Speaking after the inaugural QF9 arrived in London, Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said nonstop Australia-Paris flights were next on the airline’s radar.
“When we last did Paris it was from Singapore to Paris. It was three times a week and it was hard to make the economics work,” Joyce said, He added Qantas had daily rights to Paris, which would increase the route’s appeal to business and leisure travellers alike.
“We are keen on it [Paris]. We are interested in it, but we need to bed this one [Perth-Heathrow] down first,” Joyce said. “We need to show that economically it's going to work out.”
The early signs are good, the Qantas boss revealed. “Bookings are particularly strong in premium classes. For the next month we have a 90% load factor,” he said. As many as 60% of bookings were to or from Perth, with the remaining passengers continuing to other cities including Sydney and Melbourne.
Qantas will do a major review of the performance of Perth-London next March, before it decides to add Paris and potentially Frankfurt flights nonstop from Australia.
The oneworld member has placed firm orders for eight B787-9s with four delivered to date. The airline also holds up to 45 options and purchase rights for the aircraft type.
Qantas plans to offer nonstop flights from Sydney to Heathrow and New York City from the 2020s. Alan Joyce last year challenged Airbus and Boeing to produce an aircraft that could fly nonstop between the cities. The two OEMs have accepted the challenge and will make their cases to the airline this year.
Separately, Qantas rival, Auckland-headquartered Air New Zealand (Air NZ), this week announced an ultra-long-haul route of its own. From November 30, the carrier will launch three times a week B787-9 flights from Auckland to Chicago, a journey of up to 16 hours and 20 minutes. Chicago is a hub of Air NZ Star Alliance partner, United Airlines.