Flying High: Qantas Airways to offer world’s longest passenger flights in 2025

May 11, 2022

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Qantas Airways plans to offer some of the world’s longest direct passenger flights from Sydney to New York and London by 2025.

What does this mean?

Qantas Airways, Australia’s largest airline, has announced plans to offer direct flights lasting around 20 hours from Sydney to London and New York by 2025. Most flights on similar routes currently have to stop in other countries along the way to refuel, taking at least 24 hours to reach their destination. To do so, the airline will upgrade its fleet of aircrafts through the purchase of 12 Airbus A350-1000 planes. Alongside an upgrade of its domestic fleet, this procurement counts as the biggest order in the airline’s history. The upgrade, dubbed Project Sunrise, is a big turnaround from only two years ago, when the airline was only weeks away from going bankrupt. The decision to upgrade its fleet at this time shows that the airline is confident that tourism and business travel will return to normal following pandemic restrictions in many countries around the world being loosened.

What's the big picture effect?

The announcement is significant, following years of lost profits for the aviation industry throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Though market conditions are looking up, the most recent financial update of the Qantas Group shows that the airline will continue to remain in debt this year. Qantas Airways is not alone in struggling to make a profit: Heathrow Airport recently announced that it would continue to post losses throughout 2022, despite an uptick in travel.

While Qantas Airways’ plans are optimistic, the rest of the aviation industry does not share this sentiment. Other airlines have cancelled services into the autumn due to continued uncertainty linked to the pandemic. In addition to this, the war in Ukraine and higher fuel costs are expected to hit consumer finances and keep demand for expensive international travel low for a while yet. One concern around the proposed new routes is that they are not expected to be budget-friendly.

Given the potential health impact of spending 20 hours in the air in a small space, the new planes need to be more spacious, carrying fewer passengers to allow room for movement. The airline plans to include a “wellbeing zone” in its planes. However, fewer passengers means that the airline must charge more for the route to be financially viable. While it has not announced a price range yet, the airline is expected to focus on “premium seating”, which may be out of budget for consumers facing financial constraints.

Whilst Qantas Airways seems optimistic, the tourism industry is not yet out of the woods. However, if tourism rebounds, and consumers are willing to pay more to save time on long flights, this could inspire other airlines to make similar upgrades: longer flights call for more room, perhaps new forms of entertainment, and hopefully better food. This could potentially change the future of flying.

Report written by Selena Falcone

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