The first-ever commercial passenger flight to directly connect Australia and Europe takes off Saturday from Perth. Some 9,010 miles and just over 17 hours later, it’s slated to touch down at London’s Heathrow.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +2.98% operated by Qantas /zigman2/quotes/205878984/delayed DE:QAN -2.68% will depart at 6:50 p.m. local time and arrive at its destination at 5:10 a.m. local time on Sunday.
The flight will be only the second of two current global routes to fly nonstop more than 9,000 miles. The other is a Qatar Airways flight, using a Boeing 777, that connects Auckland, New Zealand, with Doha, Qatar.
The Perth-to-London flight will carry 236 passengers across business, premium economy and economy cabins. That number has been trimmed from the total allowable passengers on this model for better fuel use.
Passengers typically paid $2,270 for an economy seat on the flight, which eliminates the usual stop in Asia, cutting hours off the journey.
The route was deemed “a game changer” when it was announced by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in December 2016, Australia’s Nine News reported. “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 nonstop,” Joyce said in 2016.
Nonstop flights connecting the far ends of the globe are on the rise. The number of regularly scheduled ultra-long-haul flights — those of more than 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 kilometers) — has nearly tripled to 19 over the last decade, according to travel data provider OAG. The fuel-efficiency pickup from Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’s A350 has changed the industry, as have current lower fuel costs.
The Auckland-Doha hop will soon have some competition for longest route. Singapore Airlines is soon to take delivery of the long-range Airbus A350-900ULR /zigman2/quotes/208224336/delayed FR:AIR +3.53% . With it, it wants to relaunch the 9,537-mile Singapore–to–New York route after a five-year hiatus. Airbus has estimated the flight will take up to 19 hours.
It currently takes roughly 17 hours, and 8,770 miles, to fly directly from Los Angeles to Singapore, the longest direct U.S. flight since United Continental /zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite UAL +8.29% first operated this service beginning in October 2017. That distinction will be challenged, however, with the Singapore–New York revival and when Qantas launches nonstop flights between Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco in September.
The price differential between nonstop long-haul flights and those with one stop is narrowing, according to some data. After United started nonstop Singapore–Los Angeles flights last October, average ticket prices on one-stop rivals fell by 15% relative to 2016, Reuters reported, citing Expedia data.
Comparison shopping may reveal a price bump that’s worth it for a time-saving flight, especially for business travelers. For instance, the average business-class ticket from Hong Kong to New York on nonstop flights with Cathay and United costs $8,600, compared with $7,200 on one-stop options, according to Carlson Wagonlit data.