Qantas Airways is to launch a new direct non-stop route from London Heathrow to Perth in Western Australia from March 2018.
This is the first scheduled non-stop direct link between Europe and Australia.
There have been non-stop flights between Europe and Australia in the past, but only as one-off charter flights with a significantly lighter weight.
At a distance of 14,498 kilometres and a fight time of approximately 17 hours, this will be one of the longest “ultra long haul” non-stop flights in the world. This is a time saving of 3-4 hours on one stop services.
Qantas has yet to announce the exact departure and arrival times of the flights and flights will not go on sale until April 2017. If Qantas is to use departure slots from its existing Heathrow portfolio a departure time of around either 12 midday or 10pm is likely.
Flights will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 3. In order to accommodate connections to and from this flight, it will arrive at and depart from Qantas’ domestic terminal in Perth airport so that passengers do not have to change terminals to connect to Qantas domestic services in Australia.
The flight will operate daily using a Boeing 787-900 aircraft in a three class (business, premium economy & economy configuration) which will accommodate 236 passengers in total. Qantas Boeing 787-900 will feature a new business class seat and a new (yet to be revealed) premium economy seat. Qantas also promises that the in flight service routine will be designed to minimise jet lag.
Whilst today’s announcement has has been heralded by Qantas a significant milestone and a new era for the “Kanagaroo Route” it is noteworthy that Qantas is completely silent as to the status of its existing daily Airbus A380 services from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne via Dubai. Qantas has not given any indication as to whether these will be affected.
Qantas has long been an advocate of a disciplined approach to capacity, and its news release clearly anticipates this route will attract not only passengers wishing to travel direct between London Heathrow and Perth, but also those travelling to Sydney and Melbourne.
However, Qantas currently has two departure & arrival slot pairs on loan to British Airways so it has the scope to add more services to London Heathrow. (Qantas used to operate up to four daily services between London and Australia, via Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore, before operating twice daily services via Dubai under a joint-venture with Emirates.)
The Qantas news release is also silent as to whether Qantas will offer connections from London Heathrow to the UK and mainland Europe on British Airways. Qantas does codeshare with BA at London Heathrow but, post its joint-venture with Emirates, only on a very limited number of routes.
Qantas will also have to demonstrate that the service is operationally robust (it has yet to bring the Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner into service and overcome the inevitable teething problems of bringing a new aircraft into service) and it can compete on both price and comfort on a myriad of one-stop services between London and Perth via Asia and the Middle East.
That said, it is very welcome to see Qantas investing in London. The airline is also due to open a new lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 3 in 2017.
This new direct route is one of many new non-stop routes from London introduced by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which include Austin, San Jose, Santiago and New Orleans on British Airways from London Heathrow and Fort Lauderdale and Oakland on Norwegian from London Gatwick.