Qantas plans to launch the first non-stop flight to London from Australia in 2018, using the Dreamliner 787-9.
The airline confirmed the plan on Sunday, saying it will use Perth as its hub for the 14,498 kilometre flight, starting in March 2018.
It will be the third-longest passenger flight in the world and the longest by Qantas after the 13,730km leg between Sydney and Dallas on the A380.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the non-stop flight to London was 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,” he said.
“Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge.
“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.”
Qantas shifted the 70-year-old Kangaroo Route from stopovers in Hong Kong or Singapore to Dubai three years ago using the A380.
Joyce said Qantas is redesigning it on-board service to help reduce jetlag and believes the service will attract plenty of customers from Australia’s east coast.
“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,” he said.
The Qantas T3/4 domestic terminal in Perth will be upgraded for international flights — and current international services from Perth will move to the terminal. Qantas will also review its domestic flights to align them with the London departure.
Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017. No pricing has year been released.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will carry 236 passengers, but does not have a first class.
However, the trip won’t be a first for Qantas — it used a 747-400 to fly non-stop from London to Sydney in 1989 in a once-only flight, and last year, sent another jumbo non-stop from Perth to Istanbul for the centenary of Anzac at Gallipoli.
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