MIAMI — According to various reports, Qantas will announce this week plans to operate flights between Sydney and London. At over 20 hours in length, the world record route is reliant on Airbus or Boeing developing an aircraft capable of operating such a long route.
“The world is getting closer and closer together with ultra long haul flights from Delta’s ATL-JNB route to QR’s DOH-AKL. With QF looking at a 20+ hour nonstop from SYD to LHR, this would indeed supersede any flight of that distance,” said William Evans, Founder and CEO of GlobalFlyer Airline Consulting.
For many years, Qantas has relied on layover airports like Dubai and Singapore to refuel and support flights from Sydney to London. Most recently, Qantas has found success in partnering with Dubai based Emirates Airlines on these missions. At any given time, Qantas A380s can be found in Dubai and Emirates A380s in Sydney gearing up their next flights.
While Dubai is a logical location for Qantas to refuel their planes due to it lying at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, the next step the company must make is to offer nonstop service to Europe.
As Qantas readies this major announcement, Evans believes their announcement will cause more questions than answers. “Currently no manufacturer can provide an airplane that could support a nonstop service. Will it ever happen and on a two engine plane? That is the magic question. Is it economically viable for enough airlines to order enough frames,” said Evans.
Evans raises a fair point. When Boeing launched the ultra-long range 777X several years ago, several European airlines argued that Boeing had listened too heavily to the demands of Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar by giving the aircraft so much range.
Today, with these Middle Eastern carriers deferring aircraft orders and facing uncertain futures, it is unlikely any aircraft manufacturer would be willing to develop an aircraft in the near future with the range Qantas is asking for.
With Qantas gearing up to provide 20+ hour long flights, passengers must begin to ask, “When is a flight too long?”
As Evans points out, “Is it really healthy for passengers to fly for such a long time in often cramped conditions? Imagine 20+ hours in a 31” seat pitch in economy! No thank you! I would personally make a stop in another city to catch my breath!”
While millions of passengers make the hop across the Pacific between the United States and Australia each year, that flight is only roughly 15 hours. Do passengers really want to fly 20 hours on one flight?
In March of 2018, Qantas plans to commence nonstop flights between Perth and London with the 787. At 9,009 miles, the route will take only 17 hours to complete while traveling westbound. This will overtake United’s route between San Francisco and Singapore to become the longest Dreamliner route in the world.
To reach London, Qantas competitor Air New Zealand takes a unique approach. Instead of flying direct or stopping in the Middle East or Asia, Air New Zealand serves London-Heathrow as a continuation of one of its daily flights to Los Angeles. After a two hour layover at LAX, Air New Zealand flight 2 takes to the sky once more for a 10 hour and 30-minute hop to London. While the entire journey from Auckland to London takes nearly 26 hours, the stopover in Los Angeles certainly helps with passenger comfort. The flight has proven to be a success.
Two days ago, Air New Zealand discussed plans with Reuters to order either the Boeing 777X or the Airbus A350. The airline plans to use the aircraft to serve the east coast of North America (New York City) and the east coast of South America.
Last night, Qantas’ first 787-9 Dreamliner rolled out of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. Qantas currently has eight firm orders for the 787 and plans to use the aircraft on long-haul missions such as to the United States and Europe. The first Qantas 787 route will be Melbourne-Los Angeles starting in December.
While this is the first 787 to enter the Qantas fleet, it is not the first 787 in the Qantas group. Jetstar Airways, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas, currently operates a fleet of 11 787-8 across Oceania and into Asia.
The Qantas Dreamliner will seat 236 passengers, with 42 suites arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, 28 Premium Economy seats in a 2-3-2 arrangement, and 166 Economy seats in a 3-3-3 layout.