History was made on the morning of March 25 when Qantas airline’s first direct Perth to London scheduled passenger flight touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew and made the 9,000-mile (14,484km) journey in just over 17 hours.
The event marks the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of traveling between the two continents. 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.”
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.
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.”