Major announcements from Qantas and Rex show international travel is heating up again

International travel is continuing to ramp up in Australia as more and more airlines announce major new routes.

The latest developments come from Qantas, which has announced the world’s longest non-stop flight to Europe, and Rex, which has struck a new deal with a major American airline.

Aviation analyst Neil Hansford, chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions in Sydney, has more than 40 years of experience in advising airlines and is extremely optimistic about Australia’s future prospects.

“You’ve only got to look at places like Flight Centre, which were dormant,” he told The New Daily.

“Now, every desk is manned and there’s people who’ve got appointments. People are booking and moving on.”

Here’s what the two announcements mean for Australian travellers.

Qantas  to connect Sydney and London

Qantas unveiled two new “ultra-long-haul” flights on Monday that are due to take off in 2025.

Key among them is the non-stop route between Sydney and London.

At 17,016 kilometres, the new route is set to overtake the world’s current longest flight, Singapore Airlines’ 15,349-kilometre flight to New York City.

Qantas will also launch a direct route to New York City, with the potential to add Paris and Frankfurt into the mix in future.

The airline has ordered 12 new Airbus A350s specifically fitted out for the new long-distance routes.

The new planes will have more leg room in economy, redesigned first-class and business-class suites, and a “wellbeing zone” for passengers to get up and stretch their legs in the sky.

“The Qantas A350 travel experience will be truly exceptional, particularly across the premium cabins,” CEO Alan Joyce said.

An artist's impression of the wellbeing zone set to feature on Qantas' new ultra-long-haul fleet.

An artist’s impression of the wellbeing zone set to feature on Qantas’ new ultra-long-haul fleet. Photo: Supplied

Mr Hansford believes the demand is already there.

“Qantas proved on the Perth to London direct flight that there was a market,” he said.

“They couldn’t produce enough seats.”

The competition, meanwhile, simply can’t compete.

“Singapore Airlines is not going to try and operate – even if they can get the traffic rights – a London-Sydney or London-Melbourne route,” Mr Hansford said.

“They’ll always have to go via Singapore because that’s the hub. And Emirates has the same with Dubai.”

He added that in this new era of COVID-safe international travel, Qantas’ upcoming ultra-long-haul flights will have an edge because passengers won’t have to mingle with people from potential hotspot countries at major transit airports.

Rex eyes America

On the same day, regional airline Rex announced a new partnership with Delta in America.

Rex passengers will be able to seamlessly transfer from domestic flights to Delta’s daily Sydney-Los Angeles flight, and then on to destinations all over the US.

Unlike the Qantas announcement, Mr Hansford said Rex’s new partnership with American giant Delta Air Lines is merely “evolutionary”.

“It’s a ho-hum type of announcement,” he said.

That’s because rather than creating more options than ever before, the new partnership will replace the previous partnership Delta had with Virgin Australia.

Rex passengers will be able to seamlessly transfer to and from Delta's flights to the US.

Rex passengers will be able to seamlessly transfer to and from Delta’s flights to the US. Photo: AAP

“One of the problems Delta has got is that it used to feed its passengers on to Virgin, and now Virgin have gone off with United Airlines,” Mr Hansford said.

“Now they’ve got to find somebody to get a feed of passengers from and feed passengers to.

“And the last man standing, of course, is Rex.”

Virgin Australia has a nationwide route network, while Rex mainly focuses on the east coast.

However, the small airline, which is fast becoming the third player in Australia’s travel industry, struck a more optimistic tone.

“Delta will not only connect international travellers on Rex’s trunk domestic routes, but could also allow them easy access to Rex’s expansive network of over 60 routes throughout regional Australia,” the company’s deputy chairman and former National Party transport minister John Sharp said.

The partnership will kick off in the third quarter of this year.

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