Qantas has revealed more about planned non-stop passenger flights between London and Sydney – which will begin “late 2025”.
It will become the longest air route in the world, 1,000 miles longer than the current record, between Singapore and New York. The company describes London-Sydney as “the final frontier of long-distance travel”.
The original plan was for long-haul flights to start as early as 2023. But the Covid crisis – and the closure of Australia’s borders for almost two years – has caused the so-called “Project Sunrise” to be put on hold. back.
The Australian airline will launch a connection from its New South Wales hub to New York ahead of the London Heathrow-Sydney link. Two routes are being marketed under the Sunrise Project banner.
Qantas has operated non-stop between Heathrow and Perth, a significantly shorter distance.
For longer routes, the airline is stocking specially equipped jets with what it claims is a “world first safe zone” to ease the stress of a possible flight. lasts more than 20 hours.
Additionally, Qantas has published details of research designed to combat time zone drift caused by crossing multiple time zones.
If the London-Sydney link proves successful, other city pairs not currently served by direct flights could also be considered.
Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of the Australian airline group, said: “Given our geographic location, Qantas has a long history of using imagination and innovation to transcend expertise. about the distance between Australia and the rest of the world.”
But the super-long journey will come with high financial and environmental costs.
These are the key questions and answers.
What does Qantas promise?
Direct flights connect London Heathrow and Sydney, 17,573 miles apart.
Currently Qantas has a daily stop through Singapore. QF1 from Sydney to London is expected to take 23h15. QF2, the return journey from Australia to the UK, took an additional 80 minutes due to the influence of the jet stream – moving from west to east.
Non-stop flights can take about 20 hours in the southeast direction and up to two hours longer in the northwest direction.
Haven’t we been here before?
Correct. Long ago in 1989, Qantas flew non-stop from London Heathrow to Sydney in a Boeing 747 “giant jet”. The airline repeated the stunt in 2019. Both cases There were no paying passengers on the plane.
The first non-stop commercial flight between the UK and Australia was on Qantas between London Heathrow and Perth in 2018. 9,009 miles were flown by Boeing 787 aircraft.
What type of aircraft will be used for London?
Qantas is considering Boeing 777X aircraft for Sydney to London and New York, but has now ordered more than a dozen specially tuned Airbus A350-1000 jets. The European aircraft manufacturer will add an extra fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum take-off weight.
How many classes will there be on board?
The plane will be equipped with 238 seats in four classes – which Qantas says is 100 fewer than the same class of aircraft operated by competitors.
- The first: six suites “designed to resemble a small boutique hotel room with a two-metre flat bed, dining table for two, separate recliner and ultra-high-definition 32-inch 4k touchscreen TV”.
- Business Class: 52 suites with “sliding doors for added privacy, bunk beds, large dining tables, custom lighting and 18-inch ultra-high definition 4k touchscreen TVs.”
- Premium Economy Class: 40 seats with “the widest seating distance of any Qantas aircraft”. Compared to existing services, the highlight is said to be “new headrest wings” with “additional support and a sense of privacy”.
- Economy Class: 140 seats on a 33-inch pitch – two inches more legroom than British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. The TV screen will be a large 13-inch version.
What will passengers eat?
According to Qantas, putting passengers to bed will help them feel more comfortable when they arrive. The airline is promising “specific menu items including fish and chicken paired with fast-acting carbohydrates, as well as comfort foods like soups and dairy desserts.”
Purpose: to stimulate the brain to produce the amino acid tryptophan to help passengers drift more easily.
Will there be wifi?
Yes, and it is promised to be “fast and free”. A frequent complaint on the direct London-Perth route is the lack of wifi.
Each seat will have “multiple fast USB-C charging ports”.
What is the flight path?
At this stage no one knows. Russia’s war in Ukraine complicates things. The most direct “great circle” route from London to Sydney passes about 2,000 miles of Russian airspace and passes close to Moscow. No aircraft can fly this exact route due to weather and other factors. But flying over Russia for at least part of the journey was part of the original plan.
The hope is that the conflict will end and airspace reopen, before the direct London-Sydney flight launches. But if the war drags on, the planes will need to make a round trip to avoid even Ukraine and add at least 500 miles to the journey and about an hour to flight time – burning more fuel.
The other important route currently unattended under the “Project Sunrise” banner, Sydney-New York, is considerably shorter at 9,940 miles. Direct routes span most of the Pacific Ocean and over US airspace (with the exception of a small corner of Mexico), so pilots will be able to make more optimal route choices.
Who will be on board?
Qantas hopes to claim a premium of perhaps 50% on current one-stop fare. This operation would be extremely expensive compared to refueling on the go – both in terms of pilot and crew deployment and fuel consumption. In addition, the plane has fewer seats to spread the cost.
I believe the airline is targeting four main groups of the more affluent traveler class:
- High net worth individuals are not price sensitive who will pay any price to minimize airtime. It was hoped they would win first-class suites.
- Time-sensitive business travelers, often flying to attend meetings in the financial hubs of Australia or Europe.
- Luxury leisure passengers who are expected to occupy the majority of premium economy and economy seats. Those 40 premium economy-class seats in particular could prove attractive to affluent leisure travelers who would choose Qantas over the business-class one-stop deal.
- “Center-afraid” tourists are mostly older people, who will pay a fee to avoid the hassle of changing planes in the middle of the night in the Gulf or an Asian hub.
Who won’t be on board?
- budget travelers. There may be some discounts to fill some empty seats, but perhaps only for passengers arriving from another European city – flying from Paris, Dublin or Amsterdam to connect to Qantas service. For them, it will be an alternative to other one-stop options.
- Passengers headed to other cities on mainland Australia. There will be no time advantage for domestic connections over current single-stop options (with the possible exception of Hobart in Tasmania). However, two proper one-stop routes from London to the smaller New Zealand cities will open: Wellington and Queenstown.
- People who care about the environment. Project Sunrise will burn more fuel and generate more CO2 than current single-stop options. Flying such a long distance requires carrying more fuel than when stopping on the road, and the extra weight in turn increases the amount of fuel burned.
How do you avoid jet lag?
Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Center say light has a significant effect. The plan is for “appropriate cabin lighting schedules to facilitate adaptation to the destination time zone”.
Meals are also important, both in terms of timing and composition. Items such as chili and chocolate “contribute to improving the health of tourists”. In addition, exercise is essential.
Qantas says it will be the first airline in the world to offer a “Safe Zone” between premium economy and economy class. Think of it as a very compact and fully equipped gym.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We are the only airline in the world to have a tailored stretch of space and movement on board.
It will feature “sculpted wall panels and built-in stretching handles, an on-screen guided exercise program, a water station and a range of refreshments.”
Rhys Jones of the frequent flyer site First for points “Overall, this seems to be more of a way to reduce the weight of the aircraft than a real effort to take care of the health of the passengers, although creating an exercise space is a bonus,” he said. large for economy class passengers.”
Is London-Sydney really the ultimate frontier of long-distance travel?
Are not. If Project Sunrise is judged a success, it will be expanded to Melbourne, which has just replaced Sydney as Australia’s largest city (and a little closer to London).
When this happens, the remaining global exception will be London-Auckland, a distance of 11,400 miles. All other things being equal, this would add up to a 100-minute flight from London-Sydney and with a potentially smaller and less affluent market. So it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
Will other airlines respond?
Are not. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and other airlines have shown no interest in the high costs of developing long-haul aviation.