Qantas is expected to begin selling its highly anticipated direct flights from Perth to London this week.
The Australian carrier confirmed last December that it would offer the flights on its new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from March 2018, but details on the service, which will give Kiwis another stopover option, remain sketchy.
Once the flights go on sale, we’ll have answers to a few key questions, such as arrival and departure times, possible connections and how the first non-stop service between Australia and Europe will affect non-direct routes.
It is understood that the Dreamliner will leave Perth at about 10.30pm and reach London at 7am, Australian Business Traveller reported. The return flight will take off from Heathrow at about 10am and touch down in Perth at noon the next day.
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Qantas has previously said the 14,498 kilometre service will take about 17 hours, but we’ll soon know exactly how long passengers can expect to be on board. It will become the longest Boeing 787 flight in the world and could overtake Qatar Airway’s Doha to Auckland service as the longest non-stop passenger flight.
Qatar Airways set a new record for the world’s longest commercial flight in February with the launch of the service, which takes about 17 hours and 30 minutes (wind dependent) and covers 14,535km. The return flight to Doha takes about 18 hours.
There have been rumours that passengers will be able to join the Perth to London service in Melbourne at about 7pm, making it a more viable option for those on the east coast of Australia and perhaps also New Zealand. Travellers would be able to enjoy a quick pit stop in the new Qantas Perth International lounge before making the onward trek to London.
There has also been speculation that the London to Perth service will continue on to Melbourne and then Los Angeles.
It remains to be seen whether Qantas will keep its current Airbus A380 service from Melbourne to London via Dubai, effectively providing three daily flights from Australia to London. The airline has reportedly considered either ending the A380 route in Dubai and transferring London-bound passengers to partner Emirates, or handing over the entire Melbourne to London service to the Dubai-based airline.
It will be interesting to see how the non-stop Perth to London route will affect other existing non-direct flights to Europe from Australia and New Zealand, with pricing likely to be a major factor.
Kiwis can currently fly to London via the United Arab Emirates, Asia or North America, but the new service opens up the option of stopping over in Australia.
Flight Centre general manager product, Sean Berenson, said the travel agency welcomes added competition on the popular Australasia to Europe route, saying greater choice often drives fares down.
“With a lot of growth in the Europe route via Asia and the Middle East a one-stop Australian route on a quality carrier will be a welcome fare to add to the mix. Particularly via Perth. Flight Centre has seen significant growth in travel to Western Australia in recent years and we believe a stopover here would be a popular option for our customers.”
Qantas launched a seasonal direct route between Auckland and Perth in October 2016, allowing for what Flight Centre predicts will be a popular one-stop route from New Zealand to Europe via Australia, he added.
“Our expectations are that the current seasonal route between Auckland and Perth will eventually become a daily service to allow for a seamless connection with the new route,” he said.
Qantas is also hoping that the new service will bring more European travellers down under.
“A direct flight makes travelling to Australia a much more attractive proposition to millions of people. We expect many travellers from Europe will start their time in Australia with a visit to Perth before going on to see other parts of the country,” he said.