There are days in aviation history where you know something special has just happened or that a game changer has been announced – and today, Sunday December 11, 2016 that just happened.
We previously reported on rumors swirling about this but now we can say: Qantas has officially announced the much awaited and previously thought impossible route from Australia to the United Kingdom – nonstop.
The ‘Kangaroo Route’ – the lucrative passage from Australia to Europe, more specifically Great Britain – has been a cash cow and an important travel alley for decades now.
Home player Qantas does well on the route serving London from multiple Australian ports (though have cut back on Continental Europe of late). Similarly, British Airways, though a smaller player in the market, has always served the route as an important point in their route map and on a principle; connecting Australia to the colonial motherland.
But technology and logistics were always a problem and a technical stop somewhere in between was always needed.
Then you have the party crashers in the Asian and Middle Eastern players – realizing the massive premium demand and sheer volume of traffic between Australia and Europe, they entered the market and did so aggressively. Back about 20 years ago, it was Singapore Airlines. They had the market on lockdown with their premium offering and their attractive free Singapore stopover. The same could be said of the other big players in Asia, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific and their respective (extremely) palatable hubs in Bangkok and Hong Kong. Now keep in mind this was back when Dubai was a strip of gravel in a land of sand.
Then in the mid-nineties Emirates happened. And Dubai (and EK) haven’t looked back since.
But hey remember that sentence a few paragraphs above where non-stop service just a logistical pipe dream? Not anymore.
In what can be described as a major announcement, Qantas (QF) have formally announced the commencement of non-stop services from Perth, Western Australia to London Heathrow International Airport.
Flights are to be daily.
The catch is that flights aren’t slated to begin until April 2018 – but it’s massive that the airline has finally announced it officially after months of rumors swirling around.
The reason for the start date is the arrival of Qantas’ much vaunted 787 fleet that’ll be arriving around then. QF expects the 787-9 to be able to operate the flight with no restrictions (as in it can take off at either Perth or London without any operational limitations like leaving cargo, bags or passengers behind).
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce had this to say in today’s press release:
This is a game changing route with a game changing aircraft.
When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth non-stop,” Joyce said in a statement.
Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge.
At 9,009 miles, this new flight will be one of the longest in the world.
This is great for Qantas and oneworld elites to be able to cut the pesky international transit in Asia or the Middle East if your purpose is to get to London as quick as possible – this will suit business related travelers very well. Qantas estimates this new route, at about 17:30 hours will shave off about 4 hours of travel time.
And saving travel time means only one thing – cost and efficiency. While the economics of the 787 have given Qantas the ability to fly this route, it’s yet to be decided what the cost structure will be for flights and how much they’ll cost. QF is surely going to be charging a nice premium on these flights.
Mileage redemption terms and conditions will also have to be looked into – it might be possible that they won’t be available for this specific flight. And even if they are we expect some hefty margins on those redemption rates.
What we do know is that there will be 234 seats on this aircraft which indicates a very nice premium heavy configuration for the 787-9 (understandable given the length and demographics of the flight).
Given the new service and the premium QF can presumably charge, expect some very competitive deals – both cash and/or mileage based and otherwise – from the main players on this market. That’d be Star carriers Singapore and Thai and fellow oneworld member Cathay.
Sometimes we can all win.
While we wait to see what happens with the nitty gritty of the new flight and how we can get onboard Qantas’ revamped Business Class that will feature on these planes, let’s take a moment to congratulate Qantas to being the first airline to finally connect Australia and Europe non-stop and completely changing the dynamics of the Kangaroo Route.
As an aviation enthusiast (fine, geek) it’s one of those things we’ve been waiting for a long, long time and that time has finally come.