Qantas Announces Big Move Against 'Tyranny of Distance'

Airline will offer direct flights from Sydney to London, New York starting in 2025
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 9:35 AM CDT
World's Longest Passenger Flight Is Headed Our Way
A Qantas airplane lands at Sydney Airport in Sydney on Sept. 13, 2016.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

The journey from Sydney to London once took nearly 60 hours and consisted of seven stops along the way. Now, an update from Qantas on that front, via what it calls its "Project Sunrise." Australia's flagship airline announced Monday that in 2025 it will debut a nonstop 20-hour flight from the nation's largest city to the UK capital—the world's longest passenger flight, reports the BBC. A nonstop flight from Sydney to New York is also planned. "It's the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance," CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

CNBC reports on Qantas' deal to buy a dozen A350-1000 jets from Airbus, which the news outlet notes is a deal likely worth "billions of dollars based on aircraft list prices." The planes will be able to accommodate 238 passengers in four classes—first class, business class, premium economy, and economy—and feature a "well-being zone" in the middle of the aircraft that allows passengers to move around and help themselves to treats from the snack bar. Qantas also says the planes will be 25% more fuel efficient than previous jets, though some aviation experts are balking at that, saying such long-haul nonstop flights aren't very fuel efficient by nature, per the Guardian.

Other critics wonder how many people who aren't in the more luxe first-class part of the plane will fare on such a stretched-out flight. Although Qantas says seats will be roomier than usual, some worry that those stuck in economy may not be terribly comfortable. "Being confined to a small space, especially an economy seat, for 18 hours or more is torture," says a former Qantas economist who now works at the University of New South Wales' School of Aviation. Others note that the circadian rhythms of pilots and crew could also be thrown off, leading to safety and health concerns. It's not yet clear how much Qantas will charge for the upcoming nonstop flights. (More Qantas stories.)

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