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 Officer 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.
noted that both planes “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 was slightly more circumspect. “Boeing continues to work with our customers to understand their fleet requirements and market demands,” the company said. There was a glint of rivalry, though: “The 777X will advance the world’s most efficient twin-aisle family by providing the best payload, operating economics, and range combination in the market.”