Rob Hussey says the company is still looking at ways to make long-haul flights to the north-west of Australia work
Ultra long-haul flights from London to Sydney? They’re still in the works, says Qantas CEO
It’s not every day you see an announcement about a possible plane that could take passengers the furthest they’ve ever flown to date.
But last week, Qantas announced it was looking into the possibility of an ultra long-haul plane. Specifically, the airline wants to create its first Boeing 787-10 “Bunker Jet” to travel up to 8,000 miles from London to New Zealand.
“It will allow Qantas to fly customers all the way to New Zealand from London [as well as other cities] by land, providing customers from the regions between us with a significantly longer journey for exactly the same fares as if they had flown direct to New Zealand,” Qantas chief executive officer, Rob Hussey, said.
Such a move would significantly change the travel experience for passengers between Australia and New Zealand, with some leading it up to becoming more comparable to a transatlantic journey.
While travel between Brisbane and Dunedin would take five days instead of four with the flights, travellers would still fly from two airports, saving around $500 in airport fees.
Hussey conceded the jet is not commercially viable yet. “We’re not likely to have a B777-2000 [similar to the 747-400 model Qantas currently uses] enter service until the middle of the next decade – there is no contractual commitment from Boeing on that [size of aircraft],” he said.
“We haven’t ruled out building another 747 [in the future], but the 747 is an inordinately expensive aircraft to maintain.”
But until that time, Hussey said the company was “still evaluating whether this aircraft makes commercial sense”.
Qantas said it hoped the venture would encourage the New Zealand government to accelerate discussions about creating a cross-border air services agreement, which Hussey said would allow “the interests of New Zealand residents to take precedence over those of Australians”.
While there is currently no agreement between Australia and New Zealand on the matter, a long-haul service could benefit the economies of both countries by making flights cheaper and easier for both domestic and international travellers.