From the CEO
It’s easy to forget just how dramatically long-haul travel has changed in the past 70 years.
When Qantas first started flying to London with Constellation aircraft in 1947, the journey took four days and there were nine stops. The Boeing 707 – the first jetliner – cut the trip to four stops. Flying via Singapore, Bahrain, Bangkok and Cairo was a typical way of getting to London in 1968.
The 707 also helped open up the Pacific. In the 1950s, Qantas used it to operate the first regular commercial flights to the US’s west coast via Fiji and Hawaii. By the late ’80s, we were able to do it in a single leg, thanks to the Boeing 747-400 – which also transformed the Kangaroo Route, enabling just one stop.
Around that time, aviation talk turned to the hub-and-spoke model, or the idea of flying people to dozens of destinations from a single hub like Singapore, Hong Kong or, more recently, Dubai.
The recurring theme here is the impact of new technology and, in particular, new aircraft and engines. Like any industry, aviation is always making small, incremental improvements. But every so often a plane like the 707 or the 747 revolutionises what is possible. And we’re at that point again today with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
For Qantas, the Dreamliner is a game changer that facilitates a breakthrough we’ve had our eye on for a while: nonstop flights from Perth to London without stopping at a hub. This is largely due to the plane’s advanced engines and aerodynamics, which reduce the amount of fuel it burns.
Establishing the first direct link between Australia and Europe was an exciting prospect we first seriously considered a couple of years ago. Detailed analysis began in mid-2016 and involved steps such as running daily flight plans to understand factors like the ideal weight of the aircraft and the average weather conditions on the route.
Preparing for Perth-London also meant giving a lot of thought to the experience we want you to have on board. Yes, it’s a long journey but the Dreamliner has built-in technologies to smooth out turbulence and minimise jet lag. The aircraft was designed with this type of flight in mind and we’ve tailored ours with a relatively low number of seats, new features in all the cabins and some tweaks to the way we provide service.
Our planning department is already weighing up future generations of long-haul aircraft and possible nonstop routes to London or New York from Australia’s east coast. For now, though, it’s all about cracking on with preparations for Perth-London. The first flights take off in March next year and we can’t wait to get started.