London-Sydney: Qantas chief Alan Joyce eyes flights by 2023

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce wants to see live rugby action as passengers disembark on the Perth to Sydney route

Ultra long-haul flights could start operating between London and Sydney by 2023, says Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

He said that some type of long-haul service could take up to two years to develop.

The delays could be over a lack of demand, or due to being involved in a mixed fleet roll-out across the Group, he added.

Qantas operates the London-to-LA route.

Ultra long-haul flights are flight between 12,000 and 21,000 kilometres (7,850 to 13,370 miles) and can cover six or more hours without resting or using an in-flight entertainment system.


The route was mentioned by Joyce when he said that Qantas would look into long-haul services between London and the seven major cities in Australia.

Qantas uses Airbus A330s on the Sydney-to-LA route.

“They’re not ready for the day we want to fly from Sydney to Heathrow,” he said.

“Once they’re ready they’ll start generating in revenues for us in the market.”

He said that it was likely that there could be an ultra long-haul service between London and Australia.

Photo: AFP Image caption Qantas unveiled its short-haul planes at Paris last year

Did you know?

Ultra long-haul flights often have a more long-range business model, providing a longer haul distance between destinations.

However, Qantas’s long-haul fleet model means that it has to take aircraft with engines that reach longer ranges.

Instead of those, Qantas uses the A330 in the London-to-LA route.

According to Qantas, the A330 has a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,566 km) and can fly an average distance of 12,538 nautical miles (24,610 km) on each flight.

Qantas currently operates four A330s in its long-haul fleet.

What are the chances of success?

According to international business leaders, it’s the holy grail of long-haul flight routes to make sure the last flight leaves the airport at least an hour and 15 minutes early.

Qantas is currently Britain’s flag carrier. Virgin Atlantic is the main rival, while British Airways has traditionally maintained an international fleet of long-haul Airbus A330s.

“There’s an enormous appetite for flying from Australia to the UK – a market which could be worth hundreds of millions,” said Trevor Stokes, chief executive of international airline analysis firm CAPA.

“But while the business case is compelling, there is some consternation about the economics, on whether an airline like Qantas can sustainably commit such a long-haul, long-haul flight without serious disruption to its short-haul operation.”

The “long-haul luxury” approach that Oasis Airlines pioneered with its Bangkok-to-London routes, was not cheap and was often complicated by Air India’s problems, he added.

“Ultra long-haul, whereas a multi-city model does not represent a real long-haul product, but rather a highly modified A330 between three cities,” said Chris Hartley, professor of economics at the University of Melbourne.

“Until a mix of airlines on such long routes agree on a model, it is hard to see how flights such as Qantas’s long-haul route between Perth and Sydney will be sustained.”

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