London to Sydney in under 20 hours will become the world’s longest direct flight as Qantas announces plans to fly non-stop from the UK to Australia from 2025 on new plans which will include wellbeing spaces for ‘stretching exercises’.
Qantas launched a direct flight from Perth to London Heathrow in 2017, but has now announced an order of 12 Airbus A350-1000s to ‘conquer the final frontier of long-haul travel’.
The non-stop flights will allow ‘make almost any city in the world one flight from Australia’, including London and New York.
It comes after ‘strong demand’ for the Perth to London flights due to ‘convenience and time savings’, while the new fleet of aircraft will ‘set a new benchmark for premium long-haul travel’.
As part of the new project, codenamed ‘Project Sunrise’, UK passengers will be able to expect more direct flights to Australia and ‘reduced point-to-point travel time’.
A trial flight from London to Sydney in 2019 took 19 hours and 19 minutes.
The new aircraft will feature a seat count of 238, the lowest of its kind in service, and a dedicated wellbeing zone designed for ‘movement, stretching and hydration’ with complimentary water, fruit and snack bars.
The first-class suites will include a private area with door, a full-size flat-screen TV, a separate bed, a recliner lounge chair, and a personal wardrobe for the cashed-up.
Qantas will also renew its narrow-body jets as part of Project Winton with firm orders for 20 Airbus A321XLRs, and 20 A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired.
The first of these aircraft will start to arrive in late 2023, with the order including purchase right options for another 94 aircraft for delivery through to at least 2034.
An Airbus A350-1000 flight test aircraft flies over the Sydney Opera House to mark a major fleet announcement by Australian airline Qantas (pictured)
The new aircrafts will be roomy enough to offer passengers the chance to stretch their legs throughout the lengthy flight (pictured)
The interior of an Airbus A350-1000 test plane is seen at Sydney Airport for Qantas’ announcement of an order for 12 of the planes
Qantas staff wave Australian and British flags at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after landing at Heathrow Airport on March 25, 2018, following a historic direct flight from Perth
The first class suite will offer something akin to a hotel room in the sky for cashed up passenger who want to do the 19-hour flight in luxury (pictured)
The ‘Wellbeing Zone’ will offer healthy snack and areas to stretch, walk and exercise within the plane’s cabin (pictured) during the flight
The new state-of-the-art Airbus plane’s will fly out from Sydney linking the city to Europe and America via non-stop flights (pictured)
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: ‘For more than 100 years, Qantas has been at the forefront of transforming the way the world travels, particularly through direct flights. Now, the A350 and Project Sunrise will make almost any city in the world just one flight away from Australia.
‘It’s the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance that has traditionally challenged travel to Australia.
‘Our direct Perth-London flights started in 2017 and showed strong demand for the convenience and time savings from this kind of travel if the product and service is right.
‘Pre-COVID it was the longest route on our network and had the highest customer satisfaction on our network. All signs point to that demand increasing post-COVID.’
The first ‘Project Sunrise’ flights will be from New York and London, but the aircraft will also be able to operate non-stop flights to Australia from destinations such as Paris and Frankfurt.
Mr Joyce continued: ‘The Qantas A350 travel experience will be truly exceptional, particularly across the premium cabins. Our First and Business Class Seats will set a new benchmark for premium long-haul travel.
‘The first Project Sunrise flights will be from New York and London, but the aircraft will also be able to operate non-stop flights to Australia from destinations such as Paris and Frankfurt.
‘The Australian national carrier also announced the renewal of its narrow body jets as part of Project Winton with firm orders for 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired.
‘All of these next generation aircraft – through their lower emissions, longer range, less noise and better economics – will improve how people travel around Australia and overseas.’
Wayne Kwong rode in economy for the 17 hour flight and shared photos detailing his journey. ‘Tasty, filling but not heavy on your stomach!’ he wrote describing his meal (pictured)
Passengers on board shared photos of the specially crafted menu, complimentary amenity bags and the self-serve pantry, loaded with free snacks and drinks (pictured)
A free-for-all snack cabinet was available onboard where passengers could access food and drinks throughout the flight (pictured)
In 2018, before Covid firmly halted international travel, the first passengers on board the inaugural Qantas non-stop 17-hour flight from Perth to London shared their in-flight experience after the historic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed at London’s Heathrow Airport.
The 17 hour and 20-minute journey on a plane called Emily ended a few minutes ahead of schedule at 5.02 am on Sunday after travelling 9,000 miles without stopping.
Self-proclaimed ‘aviation geek’ Wayne Kwong was a passenger in the economy section for the 17-hour flight and shared several photos on social media detailing his journey.
He shared photos of the menu, uploading an image of a chicken breast accompanied by a glass of wine.
‘Specially designed meals for this ultra-long-haul flight. Tasty, filling but not heavy on your stomach! Well done Qantas,’ he wrote.
The legroom was spacious, and there was a ‘lovely retro pillow’ to help prevent knee injuries for taller passengers, Mr Kwong said.
The aircraft is twice as fuel-efficient as the Boeing 747, has lower cabin noise, larger windows, improved air quality and technology to reduce turbulence.
Passengers on board shared photos of the specially crafted menu, complimentary amenity bags and the self-serve pantry, loaded with free snacks and drinks.
The flight was 24 per cent further than the UK’s previous longest route, operated by Garuda Indonesia between Heathrow and Jakarta, which is just 7,275 miles in comparison.
The inaugural trip took off with more than 200 passengers and 16 crew members, and those on board began the journey with a round of applause.
The plane had 42 business class flat-bed seats, 28 premium economy seats and 166 economy seats.
Passengers were greeted with complimentary amenity bags, which included a sleeping mask, ear buds, a Qantas fleece blanket and a toothbrush.
Dinner offerings included cheese ravioli with leek and mushroom cream sauce; and chicken with red rice and roasted Mediterranean vegetables.
The meals were designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reduce jet lag, according to the airline.
But to the dismay of many, free wifi was not available on the flight so passengers were not able to detail every moment of their trip.
Another frequent complaint was the lack of legroom.
According to business class passenger Robert Williamson, a mining executive from Perth, the flight was ‘was surprisingly good — above my expectation’, he told the Independent.
But economy passenger Peter Robinson, a builder from Liverpool, begged to differ.
He said the specially crafted food items were bland and ‘ordinary’, but admitted the flight was ‘good, quicker than I thought.’
An infographic showing the Dreamliner aircraft that Qantas are using on the route. It has a range of 14,400 kilometres or almost 9,000 miles
After being parked at Heathrow for eight hours, the plane was scheduled to turn right back around to Perth for another non-stop 17-hour flight for a second run.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.
He said: ‘This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link.
‘The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap.
‘The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.’
Mr Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey.
A timeline by Qantas showing the changes it has made to its fleet culminating in the aircraft which flies their new Perth to London route
He added: ‘This is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.
‘Boeing designed the Dreamliner with features to reduce jetlag, turbulence and noise. We’ve taken that a step further with our cabin design, giving passengers more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.
‘We’ve worked with the University of Sydney and our consulting chef Neil Perry to create a menu that helps the body cope better with jetlag and adjusted the timing of when we serve food to encourage sleep.’