Boeing’s 777-8X has a range of about 16,000km.
Boeing’s 777-8X has a range of about 16,000km.

Qantas plans direct Sydney-London flights by 2022

Australians could have access to non-stop flights from the Australian east coast to London and New York within five years.

Qantas is expected today to announce an ambitious plan to launch direct flights between Australia and the ultra long haul destinations.

Qantas chief executive officer  Alan Joyce is tipped to unveil the 2022 deadline as the airline reveals its full-year profit results today.

In doing so, he'll deliver a challenge to aircraft manufacturers to enter a race to build a plane capable of flying such long distances.

Neither Boeing nor Airbus currently offers a plane that can reach such a distance with passengers and luggage at full capacity.

However, two aircraft models currently in development - Boeing's 777X and a long-range version of Airbus' A350 - can get close.

While Qantas has made no secret about its ambition to fly from Sydney to London direct, this will be its strongest commitment yet and the first time it's put a timeline on it, effectively dangling a multi-million-dollar carrot for the technology that makes it possible.

The next-generation aircraft are priced at about $400 million each.

In June, Mr Joyce told the Blue Swan Daily the company was "still speaking to Boeing and Airbus about the capabilities of aircraft".

Boeing and Airbus are yet to detail plans to accommodate Qantas's 2022 goal.

However, it's believed the new routes would shave up to four hours off current travel times and state-of-the-art planes would provide greater comfort for travellers, with cabins designed to minimise jet lag.

It's understood Qantas has already embarked on a feasibility study involving an analysis of 10 years of weather patterns to determine likely flight paths on the key routes.

A direct flight from Sydney to London, about 17,000km, would potentially take just over 20 hours, compared with the current 24-hour journey.

The longest commercial route currently flown is Qatar's 16-hour, 14,535km Doha-Auckland leg.

The latest move comes as Qantas prepares to fly direct from Perth to London from March, using its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the 14,500km route.

Qantas's iconic 747s are being gradually phased out, with all of the fleet's jumbo jets expected to be replaced in the coming years.

News Corp Australia

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