Qantas sets aviation milestone with first direct flight from Perth to London

Qantas operated its first ‘Kangaroo Route’ service, from Sydney to London, in 1947, when it took four days and nine stops. Now it’s a non-stop 17-hour flight.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 1:11pm

The “Kangaroo Route” from Australia to Britain became a shorter hop Sunday when the first direct passenger service arrived in London from Perth, with the 17-hour flight breaking aviation records.

Qantas’ 14,498 kilometre (9,009 mile) journey from the southwestern city to London is the world’s third-longest passenger flight, the Australian carrier said, and the first ever regular service to connect the two continents directly.

Captained by Lisa Norman, was the longest Boeing Dreamliner flight in the world.

The new link is part of Qantas’ ambitious plans, unveiled over the past two years, to add ultra long-haul flights to its global schedules.

This will eventually include non-stop flights from Australia’s eastern seaboard to Europe in an effort dubbed “Project Sunrise”.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce last year said such flights were “the last frontier of global aviation … the antidote to the tyranny of distance and a revolution for air travel in Australia”.

The world’s second-oldest airline operated its first “Kangaroo Route” service, from Sydney to London, in 1947, when it took four days and nine stops.

Joyce called the new Perth-London service a “game-changing route”. Tourism officials hope the shortened travelling time will open up Australia’s less-populated west coast to more domestic and international visitors.

A key concern for the Australian airliner has been beefing up comfort levels for the ultra-long journey, with passengers enjoying improved air quality, lower cabin noise and reduced turbulence.

Some passengers wore special monitors and devices so researchers from the University of Sydney could collect data on their sleeping and activity patterns, mental state, eating patterns and hydration before, during and after their long flight, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported.

Mark Andreassen, 57, from Perth, was one of those onboard QF9.

“I talked to one guy who came from Hong Kong to get this – he was going to London anyway but he went to Perth first,” he said.

It is not the first time Qantas has undertaken a direct flight from Australia to Europe.

The carrier in 2015 flew a one-off charter service from Perth to Istanbul to take Australians to Turkey’s Gallipoli to mark a centenary since troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought there in the first world war.

Qantas also flew one non-stop passenger flight from London to Sydney in 1989 with a Boeing 747.

Before the new service, the longest flight to Britain was a journey of 7,275 miles (11,708km) between Heathrow and Jakarta, operated by Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier.

The longest flights in the world

Auckland to Doha – 17 hours, 40 minutes

Qatar Airways Flight 921 is currently the longest commercial journey in the world, flying passengers over 14,500km (9,000 miles) from New Zealand to Qatar in nearly 18 hours on Boeing 777 airliners.

Auckland to Dubai – 17 hours, 20 minutes

Auckland is also the origin of Emirates Airline Flight 449, with Airbus A380 superjumbos travelling 14,200km in 17 and a half hours to Dubai.

Los Angeles to Singapore – 17 hours, 20 minutes

United Airlines launched its service connecting Los Angeles’ LAX airport to Singapore using 787s last year, saying the 14,100km link would be the longest non-stop flight – in terms of distance – from the United States to anywhere in the world.

Houston to Sydney – 17 hours, 30 minutes

United’s 787s also connect Houston in the southern US to Australia, crossing 13,800km in around 17 and a half hours.

Singapore to New York – 19 hours

The longest flights operating today pale in comparison with Singapore Airlines Flight 22. The carrier flew Airbus A340 airliners from the city state to New York’s Newark airport – a journey of over 15,000 kilometres – from 2004 to 2013, when the service was suspended to cut costs. But the airline plans to restart flights on the route, using the ultra-long range version of the Airbus A350.

Additional reporting by The Guardian