DALLAS (BLOOMBERG) - Qantas Airways announced on Friday (Aug 25) it will launch non-stop flights from Australia's east coast to New York and London by 2022 - if Airbus or Boeing can make planes capable of flying what would be the world's longest flights.
For many years, Qantas has coveted a non-stop offering from Sydney and Melbourne to London. Now, as technology has matured, Qantas executives finally see the potential to realize that dream. Two new models planned by Airbus and Boeing, they hope, will be able to make the nonstop trip to London - 20 hours and 20 minutes - from Sydney. This new model would also jet across the Pacific Ocean to New York in about 18 hours.
On Friday, Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce issued a public "challenge" to the companies to extend the range of Boeing's new 777X, which is slated for 2020, and the planned "ultra long-range" version of Airbus's A350, which rolls out next year. Qantas hopes to take delivery of such a plane and begin its Sydney to London service in 2022, the company said as part of its full-year income results.
Qantas noted that both planes "can get close" to the requirements needed for London and New York missions. The public prodding is designed to make one or both manufacturers revisit its technical schemes to edge out even greater range.
A nonstop flight from Sydney to London would shave almost four hours off current travel times that involve a stopover; for New York, travelers could save nearly three hours.
In still air, Sydney-London Heathrow is 9,188 nautical miles, while Sydney-New York JFK is 8,646 nautical miles. Currently, the world's longest flight route by distance is Qatar Airways' Doha-Auckland service at 7,848 nautical miles and taking more than 17 hours.
Long-range flights have become far more common in recent years as lighter composite aircraft, combined with more durable and fuel-efficient jet turbine technology, have opened a range of new routes with long-haul models from Airbus and Boeing.
Qantas will already have non-stop flights from Australia to London up and running next year, when it launches its new Perth-London route using a Boeing 787-9. The first flight is set to take off on March 24, 2018.
Singapore Airlines plans to to use the Airbus A350-900ULR next year to restore its non-stop flights to Los Angeles and New York, five years after it quit the flights due to fuel costs.
United Continental Holdings flies nonstop from San Francisco to Singapore daily, while Qantas flies from Dallas to Sydney nonstop. Both flights can top 16 hours.
Qantas flew its first so-called "Kangaroo Route" from Sydney to London in December 1947, with a Lockheed Constellation. The trip took four days. In five years, Qantas hopes to do it in just over 20 hours.
With additional information from Australian Aviation