Is It Still Possible To Fly From Australia To London?

Travelers looking to get from Australia to the United Kingdom have found their options incredibly limited, but there are still some aircraft linking the two countries. And some of them take very strange routes indeed.

Qatar is one of the few airlines still flying to Australia. Photo: Qatar Airways

What is the Kangaroo Route?

Australia to London, also known as the Kangaroo route, is one of the longest series of flights in the world (Qantas still hasn’t created the direct flight to Sydney yet). It has been running almost completely uninterrupted since the dawn of aviation.

Only during World War Two did the route somewhat suspend, as aircraft had to take a route from Perth to India to avoid combat in Singapore and Malaya. The second time is today, during the current aviation crisis. Australia has closed its borders resulting in many carriers giving up the destination until after the lockdown has ended.

But not all carriers have grounded their Australian bound aircraft.

Which airlines operate to Australia normally?

For some airlines, the Kangaroo route is incredibly profitable.

  • Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad have all jostled among themselves to operate flights from their hubs to all major Australian cities
  • Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines all operate routes to London from Sydney and Melbourne via their hubs.
  • Chinese airlines have also gone into this market, with China Southern, among others, operating services via Chinese cities like Guangzhou.
  • Australian airlines like Qantas also operate a direct flight to London from Perth (the only direct flight so far) and others via Singapore with A380s.
  • Fellow oneworld partner British Airways operates a service via Singapore to Sydney (its only Australia destination).
Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways’ A380 network to Australia and Europe. Image: GCMaps

It would not be out of the question to suggest that next to popular Europe to North America aviation market, Australia to Europe is a close second.

Who is currently flying direct?

Alas, this golden age of travel is no more and now passengers have very little choice on carriers between the two destinations. However, looking at the week ahead, there are few options still on the table.

Only Etihad and Qatar are operating occasional services between Sydney and their Middle Eastern hubs. Qatar does continue onwards, but those looking to fly from Abu Dhabi on Etihad will have to go via Kuwait and fly on Gulf Air instead. 

These flights are expensive, at around $1,620 AUD ($1,039 USD) from Melbourne to London via Doha on Qatar (normally around $700 AUD ($448 USD) one way) and $2,008 AUD ($1,288 USD) on Etihad / Gulf Air.

What about cheaper options?

However, there are two other ways to get to London from Australia that are very novel and would normally never be considered.

The first is via Japan. ANA is operating a direct Tokyo flight from Sydney, and passengers can then transfer from there to Frankfurt then on to London (flying on Lufthansa). It does take 44 and a half hours (normally only 25 hours or so) but you get there for only $1,284 AUD ($825 USD).

Another fun alternative is actually on United. I can hear you already typing in the comments that United is an American airline and wouldn’t be flying Sydney to London. Unless it also flew from Sydney to San Fransisco to New York to London, effectively flying the wrong way around the world.

Google Flights
The various options between Sydney and London this coming Thursday. Photo: Google Flights

This last option costs the cheapest at $1,200 AUD ($770 USD) and ‘only’ takes 35 hours.

What do you think? Can you think of a creative way between Sydney and London during this time? Let us know in the comments.