In a journey set to go down in aviation history, Qantas has hardwired Perth to London, with the completion of the first direct commercial flight between the Australia and the UK.
To compliment the new flight, the airline has also unveiled a slick new lounge at Perth Airport following the November 2017 opening of a new lounge at Heathrow; relocating all of the airline’s domestic and international flights into a single terminal at the regional hub for smoother connections.
Qantas Flight Q9 took off on Saturday night from Perth to undertake the 17-hour journey – 9,000-miles in distance – landing at 0502 local time, where it was given a warm Anglo-Australian welcome.
The flight, operated by four pilots – who do get a break, and share shifts for the epic journey – follows a route selected from one of a number of flight paths analysed by Qantas over a period of ten years to discover the fluctuation of seasonal wind patterns. The airline used this data to determine which will be the best path to take on any given flight, maximising local and temporal conditions to achieve the fastest flight time possible.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce (below), who landed at Heathrow yesterday morning with the first direct Perth-London service, said the new route was a major milestone for global aviation: “This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Europe and Australia have a direct air link.
“The original Kangaroo Route from London to Australia was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. That initial flight was a modern marvel when it started, and the journey gradually became shorter over the years. Now we can do it in a single leap.
“We know lots of people in the UK want to visit Australia but find the journey a bit daunting. This is now the fastest and simplest way to fly down under. It’s going to make a big difference for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world, as well as holiday-makers and business travellers.”
Discussing the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, used on the historic voyage – which holds 236 passengers comprised of 42 business suites, 28 premium economy and 166 economy seats – Mr Joyce went on to say: “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 — this is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.
To prep passengers for the lengthy trip, Qantas introduced The Perth International Transit Lounge ahead of the inaugural flight last week, as part of an extensive new approach to improving passenger comfort and health while in the air.
Designed by Australian Industrial’s David Caon and SUMU in partnership with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, the 141-seat lounge features a range of facilities, such as ‘light therapy’ in the shower suites to help adjust the body clock. There’s a wellbeing studio with stretching classes and a refresh area providing hydration, as well as multiple USB and charging ports and wireless printing.
Qantas head of customer product & service Philip Capps said; “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.”
Peter Cistulli, professor of sleep medicine at the Charles Perkins Centre, 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 jetlag.”
“The lounge is just one aspect of our partnership with Qantas to improve the wellbeing of travellers. We’ve also worked together to influence the menu and timing of the food and drinks service on the Perth to London route, cabin lighting design and temperature in the 787 and we are interested in seeing how customers will respond.”
Qantas customers can now choose from three routes between Australia and London: the direct Perth-London service on the Dreamliner; a reinstated Sydney-Singapore-London service on the A380; and via Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to London via Dubai with partner Emirates on mix of A380 and 777 aircraft.