A Qantas Airbus A380 takes off from the airport in Sydney on August 25, 2017.
Australia's Qantas unveiled plans for the world's longest non-stop commercial flight on August 25, 2017 calling it the "last frontier of global aviation", as it posted healthy annual net profits on the back of a strong domestic market. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS
A Sydney-bound Qantas flight that left Dubai International Airport on Wednesday morning had to turn back shortly after take-off. Peter Parks / AFP Photo

The world's longest flight could take off soon with Qantas



Pretty much everyone prefers a nonstop flight - business people, especially. And they are more likely than most to be in a position to afford the premium. But right now, all the money in the world won’t get you from Sydney to the Big Apple or UK without a pit stop, because commercial planes just don’t have that kind of range.

That may soon change. For many years, executives at Australian carrier Qantas Airways have coveted a nonstop offering from Sydney and Melbourne to London. Now, as technology has matured, Qantas executives finally see the potential to realise that dream. Two new models planned by Airbus and Boeing, they hope, will be able to make the nonstop trip to London - 20 hours and 20 minutes - from Sydney. This new model would also jet across the Pacific Ocean to New York in about 18 hours.

On Friday, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce issued a public “challenge” to the companies to extend the range of Boeing’s new 777X, which is slated for 2020, and the planned “Ultra-Long Range” version of Airbus’s A350, which rolls out next year. Qantas hopes to take delivery of such a plane and begin its Sydney to London service in 2022, the company said as part of its full-year income results.

The announcement came as the airline posted healthy annual net profits on the back of a strong domestic market.

The firm announced a 17.2 per cent slip in annual net profit of Aus$852 million (US$673 million) after record results last year.

The airline's underlying profit before tax - its preferred measure - was the second-highest in its history at Aus$1.4bn in the year to June 30, matching forecasts.

The results came after the completion of an aggressive three-year restructuring process that saw it slash jobs and reduce its fleet.

______________

Read more:

Emirates A380 to take on world's longest flight

Australia to London non-stop: Qantas to fly direct from Perth to London   

______________

Qantas noted that both Boeing’s new 777X and Airbus’s A350 “can get close” to the requirements needed for London and New York missions. The public prodding is designed to make one or both manufacturers revisit technical schemes to edge out even greater range.

A nonstop flight from Sydney to London would shave almost four hours off current travel times that involve a stopover; for New York, travellers could save nearly three hours. Airbus, in an emailed statement, said it was equal to the challenge.
"We'll have the A350-900 ULR in service next year for ultra-long range flights of up to 20 hours," the company said. "We'll look forward to working with Qantas to see how we can meet its requirements for Sydney-London non-stop."

Boeing didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Long-range flights have become far more common in recent years, as lighter composite aircraft, combined with more durable and fuel-efficient jet turbine technology, have opened a range of new routes with long-haul models from Airbus and Boeing. “You know from what they have done on other aircraft that Sydney-London and Melbourne-London has real possibility,” Mr Joyce told the Sydney Morning Herald in April.

Earlier this year, Qantas said it would commence nonstop flights to London from Perth in March 2018, using a Boeing 787-9.

Singapore, for example, plans to use the Airbus A350-900ULR next year to restore its nonstop flights to Los Angeles and New York, five years after it quit the flights due to fuel costs. United Continental Holdings flies nonstop from San Francisco to Singapore daily, while Qantas flies from Dallas to Sydney nonstop. Both flights can top 16 hours.

Qantas flew its first so-called “Kangaroo Route” from Sydney to London in December 1947, flying a Lockheed Constellation. The trip took four days. In a few years, the kangaroo-flagged carrier hopes to do it in just over 20 hours.

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

FROM THE ASHES

Director: Khalid Fahad

Starring: Shaima Al Tayeb, Wafa Muhamad, Hamss Bandar

Rating: 3/5

Apple product price list

iPad Pro

11" - $799 (64GB)
12.9" - $999 (64GB)

MacBook Air 

$1,199

Mac Mini

$799

MATCH INFO

Norwich 0

Watford 2 (Deulofeu 2', Gray 52')

Red card: Christian Kabasele (WatforD)

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Sri Lanka-India Test series schedule

1st Test July 26-30 in Galle

2nd Test August 3-7 in Colombo

3rd Test August 12-16 in Pallekele

Find the right policy for you

Don’t wait until the week you fly to sign up for insurance – get it when you book your trip. Insurance covers you for cancellation and anything else that can go wrong before you leave.

Some insurers, such as World Nomads, allow you to book once you are travelling – but, as Mr Mohammed found out, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.

Check your credit card before booking insurance to see if you have any travel insurance as a benefit – most UAE banks, such as Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, have cards that throw in insurance as part of their package. But read the fine print – they may only cover emergencies while you’re travelling, not cancellation before a trip.

Pre-existing medical conditions such as a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy and even asthma may not be included as standard. Again, check the terms, exclusions and limitations of any insurance carefully.

If you want trip cancellation or curtailment, baggage loss or delay covered, you may need a higher-grade plan, says Ambareen Musa of Souqalmal.com. Decide how much coverage you need for emergency medical expenses or personal liability. Premium insurance packages give up to $1 million (Dh3.7m) in each category, Ms Musa adds.

Don’t wait for days to call your insurer if you need to make a claim. You may be required to notify them within 72 hours. Gather together all receipts, emails and reports to prove that you paid for something, that you didn’t use it and that you did not get reimbursed.

Finally, consider optional extras you may need, says Sarah Pickford of Travel Counsellors, such as a winter sports holiday. Also ensure all individuals can travel independently on that cover, she adds. And remember: “Cheap isn’t necessarily best.”


Checking In

Travel updates and inspiration from the past week

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Checking In