March 26 (UPI) — Australian airline Qantas launched the first regular non-stop commercial flight between Perth, Australia, and London, England, on Saturday.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce praised Flight QF009 as a “truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel,” as it landed in London early Sunday morning.
About 200 passengers and 16 crew members were onboard the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for the 9,226-mile inaugural flight, which took 17 hours and 5 minutes.
The new direct link is three hours shorter than previous routes that required stopping in the Middle East to change planes or refuel.
“It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travelers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world,” Joyce said.
Joyce said Qantas is interested in offering regular flights to Paris, France, from Perth, after being granted regulatory approval, but the company must first assess whether the direct flight to London is financially viable.
“When we last did Paris, it was from Singapore to Paris and it was three a week and it was hard to make it economically work,” he said. “So we are keen on it, we are interested in it, but need to bed this one down [first].”
Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the airline will assess the economic viability of the service every four weeks and conduct a review in 12 months.
“Generally we would say 12 months would be the lens on a route,” Webster said. “Obviously then we’d be looking at sustainability.”
Webster said early response to the direct flight has been positive, as the daily service has been booked at nearly 100 percent capacity for its first 10 days of operation.
“We are seeing a strength of performance in early days where this will actually start marking a good contribution from a cash perspective for us,” she said. “That’s quite unusual for early days on a launch route, so it does say that our customers are responding incredibly well.”