Qantas Expected To Announce The World’s Longest Flight Tomorrow

I don’t think there’s an airline that’s making a bigger deal of the fact that they’re taking delivery of Boeing 787s than Qantas. They’re still a year from having their first 787 delivered, but they’ve been hyping it for a long time.

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Last month they revealed the layout they’re planning for their 787-9, which will be quite premium heavy. The plane will feature a total of 236 seats, including 42 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 166 economy class seats. That’s quite a spacious configuration.

Qantas will essentially have modified Vantage XL seats in business class on their 787s, all of which will feature direct aisle access and quite a bit of privacy. It’s similar to the seat they have on their existing A330s.

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Qantas said that they’d soon announce their first 787 route, and we’ve heard a lot of speculation as to what the route could be. The most common speculation we’ve heard is that they’ll launch Perth to London flights, though there have also been rumors of them launching other ultra longhaul flights, like Dallas to Melbourne.

Anyway, while I can’t personally verify it, Yahoo is reporting that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is headed to Perth tomorrow (Sunday) to announce a new route, and it sounds like that route will be Perth to London:

With Qantas boss Alan Joyce set to fly to WA tomorrow to make an announcement alongside airport chiefs and Premier Colin Barnett, it is understood the airline and Perth Airport are close to finalising the landmark agreement.

The development would pave the way for direct flights from Perth to London using Qantas’ revolutionary Boeing 787 planes, with the potential for extra routes to Paris, Frankfurt and Rome to follow.

If Qantas does indeed announce Perth to London, it would be the world’s longest flight, at over 9,000 miles one-way. Presently the world’s longest flight is from Dubai to Auckland, which is just under 200 miles shorter.

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While I think it’s great that Qantas is using the 787 to open up a new market that previously wasn’t possible, I just can’t wrap my head around how they’re hoping to turn a profit on such a route. Ultra longhaul flights are notoriously difficult to turn a profit on, and in this case there are already so many one stop opportunities between Australia and Europe thanks to the Gulf carriers:

  • Perhaps Qantas can command a mild premium for nonstop business class or premium economy on the nonstop flight, though I can’t imagine they can command that much of a premium, given the number of world class airlines offering one stop service between the two cities at reasonable costs, with only marginally longer travel times
  • In economy I’d certainly prefer breaking up the journey (in Dubai or Doha, for example) rather than having a single ~18 hour flight.

So I guess we’ll mark this as “developing” for now, and see what happens tomorrow. With oil prices potentially on the rise, any sort of ultra longhaul flying will be even tougher to turn a profit on.

Do you think Qantas will announce a Perth to London flight, and if so, what do you think their odds are of turning a profit on it?

(Tip of the hat to Brad B)

Comments

  1. DEL-SFO isn’t even 8000 miles. They sometimes take a more southerly route for wind purposes, but you’re not making a logical comparison

  2. For most Australians, it will still be a one-stop flight; I can’t imagine that they are developing that route purely based on how many people who live in Perth will take the flight – they are catering for the entire country, so someone from Melbourne or Sydney (the two largest cities) would need to fly to Perth, and then take the flight – I guess it depends on where a passenger from Sydney would prefer their stop – Perth or Dubai (for example).

  3. I take that back. The direct great circle routing for PER-LHR is shorter but they aren’t going to fly that exactly, they’ll divert slightly to avoid Crimea and the actual flight distance will thus be marginally greater.

  4. Perth’s population is 1.8million (8%) of total Australia population, and the major power houses of MEL & SYD are a good 4 hours away.. Best of luck to Qantas …..

  5. This is most likely what they will announce. Turning a profit may not be the short term strategy, but it is for the long term. Having lived in Sydney for two years, most prefer a domestic connection because flying within Australia is obscenely easy.

  6. Reading the prior quotes, it seems most of the Americans posting think just of SYD and maybe MEL and forget that Australians live in other places beyond those two cities!

    Perth is a city of nearly 2mm people. There are deep ties between Oz and the U.K., including Australians who live in Perth! While some of the traffic will be domestic connections, PER-LHR will be a reasonably strong non-stop market unto itself.

    While indeed some may prefer to break up the trip in the Persian Gulf or some other interim stop, many pax prefer nonstop travel whenever possible.

    Further, while plenty of Australians readily trash QF, a fair number have lamented the reduced amount of red-tail operated services to LHR with the EK partnership and prefer being on their home metal as much as possible. So, even for some east coast pax, of all the connections, an all-QF PER connection will be the most preferred option for some.

  7. It’s not the golden egg …. That’s Melbourne and Sydney to London ( and NYC) non stop which currently only a severely load limited 777-200LR could do (just) …but Perth to London is a good start. For the life of me I could see them doing Darwin to London non stop for the East Coast people.

  8. Def a flight I wouldn’t take in Y but it does cut transit time short if you need to travel to Perth – and WA is still getting more and more popular for travellers and business wise not to forget with all the mining etc.

  9. Much of the holdup for this route was due to cost issues at PER airport to install international services into QF’s current domestic terminal, instead of using the international terminal. They’re clearly trying to cater for east coast pax transiting through seamlessly, and I guess there’s a market for that (pretty much everyone not in Sydney laments the bus for D-I transfers at SYD). And heck, 2 million people isn’t exactly a small city. They’ve gone on the record saying there’s potential for 2x daily services to LHR and if they do end up creating bit of a European flight hub out of PER, it should get really interesting. Wonder what EK thinks?

    Worth pointing out for a while there until recently were literally no QF metal flights out of PER, and now they get this!

  10. At the end of the day, it depends what you value. The majority of my flights are in Economy (only 10% in Business) since I prefere to have a nicer hotel-place than paying more for Business Class. I fly quite a lot with QR, EK and EY; however I’m getting tired of that nightmare in the middle of the night (connection). I would pay more to travel in the QF LON-PER rather than transitting in the middel of the night somewhere in the middle east: I could get a long sleep during the 17 h without being interrupted with a transit in the middle east (yes! I do sleep in economy). Few years ago I remember flying FCO-KUL non-stop. After having had the lunch, I slept for the rest of the flight, waking up shortly before approach.

  11. I have a slight doubt they’ll be flying to London…due to their joint venture agreement with Emirates aren’t they restricted from flying that route?

  12. I live on the East Coast of Australia and would love a one-stop to London with a domestic connection and I know of many others who would also!

  13. Perth has a metro population of 2 million and very very close ties with the U.K.

    Additionally people in Adelaide (metro pop 1.3m) would use the service. As would Canberra (airport catchment 800,000)

    This would allow Adelaide and Canberra flyers one stop flying to London transiting with ease at a domestic location in Perth. Instead of backtracking to Sydney or Melbourne – which makes 2 stops to London plus the terrible transfer experience at Sydney

    So with Perth Adelaide and Canberra that’s over 4 million people

    If much smaller us cities like San Jose, Austin and New Orleans can support service to London I’m certain Perth can

  14. Perth is a beautiful city. I would prefer to stop in Perth visiting friends and families, visiting wineries etc! It will really open up Western Australia! Perth will become a gateway for European visitors! So excited!

  15. I think that they will totally fill those seats because you would have a lot of people in economy who don’t want to deal with transiting, they’ll just want to get on a plane and arrive at their final destination.

    Also, you have some passengers who don’t want to fly on a carrier from the middle east. Some people would feel more comfortable flying with an airline from where they live.

  16. Ok this may sound stupid but why are these super long hauls only being established now? I mean the A340 and 777.-200 have way longer ranges than the 787.
    I mean yes, fuel efficieny, but is that it?

  17. A QF-QF in terminal transfer at PER from anywhere east of Perth to LHR be great. So many Australians would choose that as their preferred connection and it would also be able to command a high premium being QF metal too. If this does eventuate it is indeed exciting.

    Being able to arrive at the airport 45min before my flights to London would also be amazing. (Online check in, bag drop closes 30mins prior to take off and takes all but a minute, security usually a few more).

    Something like this really does highlight the differences Australians place on the travel experience being uniquely so far away from anyone else.

  18. It won’t be LHR but Rome, Paris or my money Frankfurt. Qantas has many flights per day Perth to all Australian capitals and some regionals, think of it as a funnel with the east coast the opening and Perth the exit. The 787-9 is designed to make money on this type of route. Qantas subsidary Jetstar was an early adopter of the 787-8 so I would say this is their first under their livery. To be able to hub your European flights on Domestic soil is a huge advantage that until now was not possible. Make no mistake as Joyce says “this is a game changer”. The transit times in the middle east can be almost 22 hours this would not be the case in Perth. Bring it on. The aircraft can fly a domestic leg then a Europen leg the new Qantas terminal (only) will be a hybrid domestic/international.

  19. @tim is right: I think the Americans may be underestimating the closeness of ties between Perth and the U.K.

    And while most of us geeks seem to love Middle Eastern transfers, I suspect a high proportion of the market would prefer getting on a flight and sticking with it – even if there’s a domestic hop at one end.

    The Australia market isn’t just Sydney and Melbourne: any other city which has a domestic hop to get to one of those airports – where pax then face a transfer mid-flight – is now competing with a non-stop flight from Perth.

  20. Let’s hope they have, as suggested, sorted out the domestic to international transfer arrangements for Perth. The current bus trip is so long it almost counts as another flight.

  21. As others have suggested, this really has nothing to do with Perth – though still great for the city. This is about Qantas being able to deliver a full QF-end-to-end / seamless experience from the moment you walk in the airport in SYD / MEL / ADL / CBA / BNE / HBA / DRW (only 45 min before your domestic flight with checked luggage) or any of the smaller regional towns, to the moment you land in LHR. PER gets to join that list of course (though with a 2hr check-in).

    I would easily imagine a flight from each capital city, timed to get to PER 1:30-2:00 before departure to LHR – short enough for a quick trip to the lounge for a quick bite. A dedicated / automated immigration using SmartGate (and no more departure cards) that would be in the same hybrid domestic / international terminal. And then they’re off to the UK.

    Aussies are very loyal to their own carriers – I was just a a dinner last night, and my dining colleague was comparing EK F to QF F, both on the 380 and said “it didn’t have the bling or the flash, but I still preferred the QF F experience – even without the shower or bar”.

    I suspect this route is also the reason QF have announced the least-dense 787 in terms of seats – they realise there is a need for more room on an 18 hour flight.

    As an aside, I agree with some others – I could see this as a flight to a new European partner hub. But man are Aussies also drawn to London!

  22. I suspect they will announce a London flight then a Paris flight 5 days a week (limited but traffic rights) a little later on. It will suit us in Canberra very well. I am one of those who likes a long flight then a shorter flight hence to East coast USA via Dallas. Perth will suit us who love longer uninterrupted flights and only one set of international security checks.

  23. I think this would prove really popular, there are a lot of Brits in Perth travelling home and vice versa with their familes over to visit too, even onto the rest of the country I think this connection would be preferred. Do immigration in Perth then get out of Syd/Mel etc etc super quick from a domestic flight

  24. Nonstops always command a price premium. Period. Well, as long as there’s paid j demand, which there is in this market. The ME carriers can be nice, but QF will be able to command a price premium. Enough to make it profitable? Tbd. But note what happened in SFO when UA started SIN nonstops. SQ matched quickly. SQ may be nice but UA was able to command the price premium, despite an inferior product, due to the schedule. Same thing happens in every market the world over. PERLHR will be no different

  25. A Qantas fanboy but I’m heartily sick of the build up. Just get the aircraft in please. If the one stop is in Perth at a domestic level then bring it on. Sydney to Perth is an easy run and then onwards.. I like dubai but increasingly it’s becoming a nightmare with the sheer volume of traffic passing through. It would be great to see the Nth America routes developed also. Sydney to Chicago and NY would complete my travel needs.

  26. This has been done to drag pax away from having to transit in DXB/DOH/SIN/BKK/KUL/HKG/TYO, and subsequently give the bird to carriers like EK, SQ & CX.
    Don’t forget, they’ll be able to offer direct flights to those destinations with QF metal *all but DOH & KUL, and will be timed to a business person friendly time.

  27. As a gay traveller I have avoided Qantas to Europe because of the Dubai stopover. I do not feel safe in the middle east travelling with my partner and will not support a country which criminalises LGBT people (UAE). It was a shameful act by Mr Joyce to tacitly support this discrimination. I would definitely travel Qantas to LHR, CDG etc from Perth to avoid the unpleasantness of the UAE.

  28. Their 787-9 is not even comfortable and generous enough in Economy for such a flight. Seat pitch is only 32″ or 1′ more than their A380, and it’s in 3-3-3 layout.

  29. My interest is that it would be another OW flight ex PER to Europe tjat hopefully I could snag business seats on using AA miles. We’ll see tomorrow….

  30. There is so much traffic between Australia and London, from regular business travelers through to once every years international travelers.

    How many Americans travel to Australia by transiting Vancouver, or to Asia via Mexico City? Virtually none, since they can transit domestically.

    I see these flights being a success. Most non frequen flyers will pay a premium to transit within Australia rather than Asia or the middle east.

  31. I have never liked transiting in the middle east, and while I love Qantas I have deliberately not flown QF/EK to Europe because of that and opting instead to fly a combination of CX/SQ/LH/LX. I am really excited about this potential new route, and hey, the J product from SYD/MEL to PER in Qantas or Virgin isn’t half bad either!!

  32. It doesn’t make sense – there’s not enough market in Perth. Bulk of pax will be to or from SYD/MEL so it’s still a one stopper. Passengers would choose to stop along the mid point at a world class airport in the ME rather than one ULH and one short hop with a stop at a tiny questionable quality airport.

  33. @sahir Saddiqui. Dubai is undoubtedly a good airport but world class? QF 1 gets in at 1230 and out at 2.15 am. Luckily I have lounge access to freshen up at the Emirates lounges. But frankly its becoming so busy at that time of night as to be pretty unpleasant. Perth makes a lot of sense for Australian flyers to avoid the scrum that is dubai. It’s for this reason that I fly on Qantas to Dallas en route to NY to avoid LAX. Perth is not in the same league as Dubai but like all frequent flyers, all we look for is a place to freshen up and a bit of peace and quiet.

  34. It has been announced (on Sunday) and there are more than a few of us who prefer a long leg and a shorter leg rather than two long legs hence the poplularity of Dallas. Also only one international level security check Perth.

  35. I would think a QF/QF transfer is relatively easy in Perth.

    I’m lucky that I usually fly F on intercontinental flights. But even in F, after 13-14-15 hours, I’m ready to bolt the plane. If this does turn into a 19-hour flight, that might be a bit overwhelming for many [without the enhancements of alcohol or pharmaceuticals 🙂 ].

  36. @twon – have you ever been to the UAE? I”ve lived there and worked there as a gay man and can honestly say it’s one of the gayest places I’ve ver lived. I worked in a company where being open about being gay was never a problem. And it was a company owned by the government of the UAE, not a western company. you’d have no problem transiting there, let alone visiting. Yes, there are laws on the books, but there were several anti gay laws on the books in MANY countries (US, Australia, etc) until relatively recently. The UAE is a place that has literally gone from a nomadic/ ancient trading culture 60 years ago to modernity quickly. I worked with several Emiratis – many worked for me, many were my peers – and they were very supportive of homosexuality. Many were gay themselves. Honestly, the attitude you have doesn’t help move anything forward, it hinders progress. get with it.

  37. Lucky, your missing the point entirely. Perth has a population of 2M, it has the highest % of Expat British in e entirety of Australia at a staggering 13% ! The market is a no brainier , BA dropped the ball big time on this one. It’s hard to even hear an Australian accent these days in Perth ..Lol

  38. Lucky, this has just been announced on Australian news. Alan Joyce has said the plan is to build immigration and customs facilities at the Qantas domestic terminal (T3) so the archaic transfer between the ‘international’ and ‘domestic’ sides of the airport will no longer be an issue for onward connections within Australia from the LHR-PER flight.

  39. From all the comments here, I think this is going to be like AI’s DEL-SFO. Chinese and ME carriers have flooded the market with cheap seats, yet AI gets a premium for being non stop. It even lead to EY reducing frequency to SFO to 3 per week.

  40. To Twon, the Gay Traveller….based on my anectodal experience (only) a decent amount of male QF FAs are gay. They seem to arrive in and leave DXB all the time with no issues! Unless you are proposing sex on the streets, I think you dont have too much to worry about!!!!!

  41. Yep, confirmed today. Honestly can’t see this *not* working well for them, pretty much a no brainer in terms of PER pax and connecting pax from the east coast. You’d be surprised by the number of people avoiding transiting through ME for whatever reason to get to London (even here in the comments).

    For transiting J pax from SYD/MEL/BNE, you get pretty much the same hard product all the way through, much better than both EK/QF’s A380 J product. Though while the PER domestic J lounge is rather excellent, it’s no EK DXB F lounge, so that’s bit of a downgrade. And no QF F lounge access at SYD/MEL too.

    Also rumours on AusBT that QF’s MEL-DXB-LHR will be axed, and this PER-LHR flight will originate in MEL. Which makes a lot of sense imo, especially since they’ve been saying how much of a “challenge” the LHR routes have been so far for them. And also frees up 3x A380s for something more interesting.

  42. @Sebastian could Mumbai be a possible destination for it? Half of ME3 traffic goes to India from Australia and there is only one AI nonstop between Delhi and Melbourne/Sydney (B787 3 days a week to both of them)

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