Qantas’ first Perth to London flight has taken off, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of traveling between the two continents.
The history-making QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew, pushed back just before 7pm on Saturday evening and will land in London at 5am on Sunday.
Operated by a Boeing 787-9, the flight reduces total travel time by eliminating stopovers and taking advantage of the most favourable winds on any given day without having to factor in a mid-point in the Middle East or Asia when choosing a flight path.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.
“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link,” said Mr Joyce.
“The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap.
“The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.”
Mr Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey.
“This is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.
“Boeing designed the Dreamliner with features to reduce jetlag, turbulence and noise. We’ve taken that a step further with our cabin design, giving passengers more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.
“We’ve worked with the University of Sydney and our consulting chef Neil Perry to create a menu that helps the body cope better with jetlag and adjusted the timing of when we serve food to encourage sleep.”
The daily QF9 begins in Melbourne, flying to Perth before then flying non-stop to London. Qantas has adjusted the timing of some domestic services into Perth so that passengers from Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane can join the flight to London.
Today’s first flight coincided with the opening of the airline’s new Perth International Transit Lounge featuring jetlag reducing lighting as well as pre-flight stretching classes, and relocating all of the airline’s domestic and international flights into a single terminal at Perth Airport for faster, smoother connections.
Mr Joyce added: “I’d like to specially recognise the support and cooperation of the Federal Government, the West Australian Government and Perth Airport. Without their help this flight, and all its broader benefits, wouldn’t be happening.”
Qantas chose its newest Dreamliner ‘Emily’ to operate the inaugural service, which features a striking livery by Balarinji based on the artwork Yam Dreaming by Indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The initiative is part of the national carrier’s commitment to promoting the best of Australia to the world.
From today, Qantas customers can choose from three routes between Australia and London – the direct Perth-London service on the Dreamliner; a reinstated Sydney-Singapore-London service on the A380; and via Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to London via Dubai with partner Emirates on mix of A380 and 777 aircraft.
NINE FAST FACTS ABOUT QF9 (PERTH-LONDON)
QF9 is operated by four pilots across the 17-hour journey, with one or two pilots resting at any one time.
The flight will follow different flight paths depending on the best winds, helping the aircraft fly faster and more efficiently. Qantas analysed a decade of seasonal wind patterns in preparation for the new service.
At 14,498km, QF9 is the third longest commercial flight currently in operation. It is the world’s longest Dreamliner flight.
QF9 will carry around 92 tonnes or 110,000 litres of fuel with the Dreamliner burning approximately 20 per cent less than traditional aircraft its size.
With a total seat count of 236 passengers, the Qantas Dreamliner has significantly fewer seats than many other airlines who have configured the same aircraft to carry more than 300 passengers.
Currently, most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 ft. For the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 ft, meaning it’s closer to conditions on the ground.
Menus for the flights between Perth and London have been designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reduce jetlag and include poke bowls as well as home style comfort food.
There are more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London including 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits.
In 1947 a return flight from Sydney to London cost £525 when the average wage was £7. Today, the average Australian weekly wage is $1600 and a return fare from Perth to London can cost less than $1300.