Direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to London are one step closer with Qantas ramping up its test flight program Operation Sunrise.
The national carrier is also looking to launch the first direct flights between Sydney and New York, which is expected to take about 19 hours.
“There is plenty of enthusiasm for Sunrise but I have to say it is not a foregone conclusion,” said Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce.
“This is ultimately a business decision and economics have to stack up. And if they don’t, we won’t do it.”
The test flights will use new Boeing 787-9s that will carry about 40 people each to research how people on-board will cope with the longer journeys and its impact on their bodies.
“Ultra-long-haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them,” Joyce said.
“For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight. For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximise rest during their downtime on these flights.
“Flying non-stop from the east coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.”