Direct London to Sydney flights a step closer with Qanats tests

Andrew Cummings
August 23, 2019

This will represent the world's first flight by a commercial airline direct from NY to Sydney and only the second time a commercial airline has flown directly from London to Sydney. No commercial airline has ever flown direct from NY to Sydney before.

The test flights scheduled for October, November and December will move the airline closer to that target and enable Qantas, alongside medical experts, to test the health and wellbeing impacts on passengers and crew. "We'll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights".

There's no layovers, no extra journeys through customs and no transfer stress, he points out.

Medical professionals will be participating in the flights to test how 19 to 20 hours in an aircraft affects the human body.

Joyce said the outlook for the airline was "mixed", with weakness in the domestic tourism market and flat corporate travel demand. "But some people are prepared to pay the extra price of that ticket".

Until that happens, Australians flying to NY still have to catch a connecting service at either Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Qantas is trialling non-stop commercial flights from Australia to London and NY to research the impact on the health and wellbeing on passengers and crew members.

Qantas has only once flown direct from London to Sydney but that was an experimental flight in 1989 with just 23 on board in a cabin that was stripped of heavy fittings to reduce fuel consumption.

No commercial airline has ever flown direct from NY to Australia. Researchers will record melatonin levels of pilots before, during and after the flights, as well as track their brain wave patterns and alertness.

Carbon emissions from the flights will be fully offset, Qantas said.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the flights will provide data to answer questions around the wellbeing of passengers and crew during long haul flights. They will be looking at how to minimize jet lag and how to create a comfortable long-haul atmosphere. "For crew, it's about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during their down time on these flights", Joyce continued. "It was very much doubted in the previous generations of aircraft that this was something you'd want to do and that could be economically beneficial for airlines to do", Fehrm tells CNN.

In the 12 months to June 30, underlying profit before tax - the airline's preferred measure that strips out one-off costs - was down 17 percent at Aus$1.3 billion.

"This is still a very competitive race", he said.

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