Qantas is seriously considering connections from London to Melbourne and Sydney.
Since the Australian airline announced a non-stop link between Heathrow and Perth, demand for the 17-hour flight has proved strong. After the first non-stop flight between the UK and Australia fare rises towards £2,000 return, Qantas is hopeful about the London to Melbourne route.
A few seats are available for the first outbound departure from London next year on 25 March, but round-trip economy fares are approaching £2,000. The demand for more comfortable seats on the 9,009-mile trip has what caught the attention of the Qantas executives. Premium Economy is selling strongly at over £3,000 return, while Business Class is currently priced at over £6,500.
Much cheaper deals are available on connecting services, which suggests that well-heeled passengers will pay a substantial premium for cutting out the en-route stop, which adds a minimum of two hours to the overall journey. London to Sydney distance is 10,557 miles, with Melbourne around 60 miles closer. Presently, the quickest London-Sydney trip is around 22 hours and 30 minutes which is either on Emirates or Qantas via Dubai, or Thai via Bangkok. The non-stop service reduces only two hours and wraps up the route by 20 hours.
The two big aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, are developing competing aircraft that could operate such routes: the A350ULR [Ultra Long Range] and 777-8 respectively. The world’s longest flight at present, the 9,025 miles between Doha and Auckland, uses an earlier version of the Boeing 777.
The aviation consultant, John Strickland feels that the nonstop would appeal to the relatively small premium market but due to the need to still sell economy seats, would not be likely to be as profitable as other potential uses of the aircraft.
A Qantas Boeing 747 flew non-stop from Heathrow to Sydney in 1989, but as a proving flight with no paying passengers.