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Australian Airline Plans Record-Breaking Flights to London, New York

An Airbus A350-1000 test plane arrives at Sydney Airport as Qantas announces an order for 12 of the planes in Sydney, Australia, May 2, 2022.

Australian airline Qantas has announced plans for record-breaking direct flights from its biggest city, Sydney, to London and New York. Experts say the ultra-long-haul flights are one of modern aviation’s last great challenges.

At more than 17,000 kilometers, Sydney to London would be the world’s longest commercial flight. The chief executive of Australian airline Qantas, Alan Joyce, described it as “the last frontier” for international travel. The non-stop journey would take about 20 hours.

Joyce added that aircraft cabins “would be specially designed for maximum comfort in all classes.”

There would even be “wellness zones” for exercise on board the planes that will also fly from Sydney to New York, a distance of about 16,000 kilometers.

The ultra-long-haul services are expected to begin in late 2025. Tickets for the long-haul jets are likely be more expensive than current flights, that stopover in cities such as Dubai, Singapore, and Los Angeles.

Professor Greg Bamber from Monash University’s Business School said demand for the services is likely to be mixed because of the popularity of video conferencing technology, although other passengers will want to complete their trip as soon as possible.

“There is likely to be, on the one hand, increased demand for this kind of flight given that there are more concerns about infectious diseases, like COVID, about wars, as we have got in Ukraine at the moment. But on the other hand, there may be less demand because people have got used to using Zoom; businesspeople, for example, have been able to have meetings over Zoom for the last couple of years during the pandemic,” said Bamber.

Qantas has ordered 12 aircraft from the European manufacturer Airbus in a multi-billion dollar deal to service the new routes.

Experts say the announcement is a sign that global air travel is recovering from the pandemic faster than expected.

Qantas started direct flights between Perth and London in 2018. Those services were suspended because of COVID-19 border restrictions in Western Australia and the non-stop flights now operate out of the Australian city of Darwin.