Qantas confirmed yesterday that it will operate non-stop flights from Perth to London using the B787-9 Dreamliner.
Speculation about the new route has circulated for over a year, fuelled by the occasional comment by Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce. Some critics questioned whether the 14,498 kilometre route would be commercially viable. Qantas has concluded that it will be – but it won’t happen this year or next.
The Perth-London service, due to begin in March 2018, will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe.
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.
“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.”
Qantas and Perth Airport were reported to be thrashing out details last week. A sticking point was who would pay for the airport infrastructure upgrades needed, with Perth Airport reported claiming that Qantas was refusing to pay any of the estimated AUD 25 million or more the upgrade might cost.
Qantas is expected to take delivery of its first B787 late next year. Air New Zealand was the launch customer for the B787-9 and already operates the fuel-efficient aircraft type.
Joyce said passenger comfort on the long flight was a key consideration.
“When we designed the interior of our 787s, we wanted to make sure passengers would be comfortable on the extended missions the aircraft was capable of.
“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,” he added.
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.
Joyce expects the direct route 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. 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,” Joyce added.
“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the West Australian Government and Perth Airport in helping make this service a reality.”
Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017 for the first services in March 2018. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.
FAST FACTS – PERTH TO LONDON
- This will be the shortest and fastest version of the Kangaroo Route in the route’s 70-year history.
- It will be the first direct link between Australia and Europe, using WA as a hub.
- The 14,498km flight will take approximately 17 hours (slightly more or less depending on winds).
- When it launches, it is expected to be the third-longest passenger flight in the world.
- It will be the longest flight on the Qantas network, followed by the airline’s non-stop A380 Sydney-Dallas service (13,730km).
- It will be the longest Boeing Dreamliner flight in the world.
Edited by Peter Needham