From Australia to the UK; an Ambitious Journey

It’s been an iconic ambition to secure non-stop services from Australia to the United Kingdom. Something that has been talked about for many years but rather like an English World Cup win, it’s always been out of grasp. Until now.

That dream potentially becomes reality with the delivery of the B787-900 to Qantas in the coming months.

It’s an ambitious journey; 7,829 nautical miles to London Heathrow and a journey time of over 19 hours, surpassing one of the current longest scheduled sector operated by Emirates from Dubai to Auckland. It will also possibly require specially-configured aircraft and perhaps a reduced passenger payload, which might be helpful given the sector length. Yet the most important question is whether there is enough of a market to make it even commercially attractive.

The latest OAG Traffic Analyser data suggests a market of 186,000 passengers in the last twelve months with Dubai (54,000 passengers) capturing the largest share of that market, closely followed by Singapore, Doha and Kuala Lumpur. Quite how Emirates would feel about such a service competing on a route where it is a market leader would be an interesting ‘fly on the wall’ opportunity. Very much seen as a leisure market, average yields are not great on that route; fares currently start from around £580 although a non-stop service may attract a modest premium.

And that premium may be essential. Securing slots for a service at Heathrow would prove challenging given the current high levels of demand and perhaps London Gatwick would be a good secondary choice, although of course not currently a Qantas destination. The dream may finally be reality but with that reality comes some real operational and commercial challenges.

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