Qantas launched its first Perth to London return flight, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe – and the fastest way of traveling between the two countries.
The history-making QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crewmembers pushed back just before 7pm on Saturday evening and landed in London at 5am on Sunday. The return QF10 flight will depart London Heathrow at 2pm on Sunday and land at 1pm (local time) in Perth on Monday.
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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
Qantas chose its newest Dreamliner ‘Emily’ to operate the inaugural service, which features a striking livery based on the artwork Yam Dreaming by Indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The initiative is part of the national carrier’s commitment to promoting the best of Australia to the world.
Operated by a Boeing 787-9, 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. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.”
Mr Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey from Perth to London.
“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 launch of the inaugural flight on Saturday 24th March coincided with the opening of the airline’s new Perth International Transit Lounge, featuring jetlag reducing lighting as well as pre-flight stretching classes and relocating of all of the airline’s domestic and international flights into a single terminal at Perth Airport for faster, smoother connections.
The lounge is open to customers transiting in Perth when travelling on QF9 from Melbourne to London and QF10 from London to Melbourne. It is also open to customers beginning their journey in Perth to London. Eligible customers include customers travelling in Business, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers, oneworld Emerald and Sapphire customers and Qantas Club members and their guests.
The Perth International Transit Lounge has been designed by Australian Industrial designer David Caon in consultation with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre using an evidence-based approach to wellness. The lounge offers a range of unique features including ‘light therapy’ in the bathrooms to help adjust the body clock, a wellbeing studio with stretching classes and a refresh zone providing hydrating face products. Customers can dine in an open-air terrace with a BBQ serving gourmet dishes by Neil Perry.
Charles Perkins Centre Professor of Sleep Medicine, Peter Cistulli, said the overarching goal was to enhance the passenger travel experience and optimise well-being.
“We’ve worked with the University of Sydney’s School of Physics to create an airline-first bespoke body clock intervention using bright light to help kick start the adjustment of customers’ body clocks. Applying light at appropriate times helps reduce the effects of jet lag,” Professor Cistulli added.
Qantas Head of Customer Product & Service, Philip Capps, said an emphasis on wellness in the lounge design was a whole new approach to long-haul travel.
“We’ve brought together some of Australia’s best culinary, design and scientific minds to create a lounge experience that will help set our customers up to feel better throughout their journey.
“This sophisticated lounge is the ideal space for customers to unwind in between flights. The design reflects the natural beauty of the WA landscape through natural light and colour choices, and offers some of the best local food and wine.”
Qantas Group CEO Alan 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.”
From today, Qantas customers can choose from three routes between the UK and Australia – a daily Sydney to London Qantas A380 service via Singapore, a daily Qantas 787 Dreamliner service from Melbourne via Perth to London and daily services via Dubai with partner Emirates.
NINE FAST FACTS ABOUT QANTAS’S HISTORIC NEW ROUTE
- QF9 and QF10 are operated by four pilots across the 17-hour journey, with one or two pilots resting at any one time.
- The flight will follow different flight paths depending on the best winds, helping the aircraft fly faster and more efficiently. Qantas analysed a decade of seasonal wind patterns in preparation for the new service.
- At 14,498km or 9319 miles, it is the third longest commercial flight currently in operation. It is the world’s longest Dreamliner flight.
- QF9 will carry around 92 tonnes or 110,000 litres of fuel with the Dreamliner burning approximately 20 per cent less than traditional aircraft its size.
With a total seat count of 236 passengers, the Qantas Dreamliner has significantly fewer seats than many other airlines who have configured the same aircraft to carry more than 300 passengers.
- Currently, most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 ft. For the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 ft, meaning its closer to conditions on the ground.
- Menus for the flights between Perth and London have been designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reducing jetlag and including poke bowls as well as home style comfort food.
- There are more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London including 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits.
- In 1947 a return flight from Sydney to London cost £525 when the average wage was £7. Today, the average Australian weekly wage is $1600 and a return fare from Perth to London can cost less than $1300.