Qantas unveils plans for non-stop Europe, US flights

Qantas unveils the world's longest non-stop flights

Australians will be able to travel to London, Paris and New York on non-stop ultra long-haul Qantas flights from late 2025.

Qantas, which has been working on the no-stopover trips under Project Sunrise for several years, is ordering 12 Airbus A350-1000s wide-body aircraft to service the routes.

“It’s the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance,” CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement on Monday.

“The cabin is being specifically designed for maximum comfort in all classes for long-haul flying.”

Mr Joyce said the decision was a vote of confidence in the future of the national carrier.

“The board’s decision to approve what is the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the Qantas Group,” he said.

“New types of aircraft make new things possible.

“That’s what makes today’s announcement so significant for the national carrier and for a country like Australia, where air travel is crucial.

Federal minister Stuart Robert also hailed the move.

“It’s superb,” he told the Nine Network.

“It demonstrates that Australians want to get out and travel again.”

The new planes are 25 per cent more fuel efficient than previous generation aircraft and will carry 238 passengers in four classes, including first, business, premium economy and economy, and have a “wellbeing zone” in the centre.

The first flight is due to take off from Sydney by the end of 2025.

The planes are expected to shave almost four hours from a flight from Australia to London, taking it to 20 hours and 20 minutes. A flight from Australia to New York is expected to be 18 hours, saving about three hours.

Qantas already operates non-stop 17 hour flights from Perth to London.

Before the coronavirus pandemic erupted, the so-called Kangaroo route between Australia and Britain was one of Qantas’ busiest international operations.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the fact Qantas was putting Sydney at the heart of its plans cemented the state capital’s status as Australia’s only global city.

“This … will help create 2500 jobs and generate more than $300 million in local economic benefits,” he said.

Tourism and Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond said the plan was a fillip for the local industry.

“What we now need to see is that growth in international visitors, because that’s what is going to make a huge difference for people like far north Queensland, central Australia, the big capital cities,” she told the Nine Network on Monday.

Qantas also announced it will renew its domestic narrow-body fleet from late 2023. It has placed an order of 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220s under Project Winton, as the airline’s Boeing 737s and 717s are retired.

Meanwhile, the carrier released its third-quarter trading update on Monday, showing domestic travel demand is returning to pre-COVID-19 levels ahead of expectations.

Demand for international travel is also recovering well, albeit at a slower pace due to some markets remaining closed or heavily restricted.

But bookings for destinations, including London, Los Angeles, South Africa and Bali, are all above pre-coronavirus levels.

-with AAP

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