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Will Direct London to Sydney Flights Actually Be Profitable?

Qantas is one of the only airlines in the world who, despite having bucket loads of cash, can’t actually find the right aircraft for their planned routes.

Why? Because they want to fly from London to Sydney direct. No stopping in Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong, no fifth freedom routes and no code-sharing with other carriers. Qantas wants to become a worldwide reaching airline, with a single hub on the east coast of Australia.

An aircraft that can do this doesn’t exist yet*. An Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X come close but fall short of the very high standard that Qantas is demanding. Boeing. so far, is in the lead, with their private variant of the 777X that can fly to nearly everywhere in the world.

But as speculation runs rampant, few have asked if these routes (London to Sydney, Melbourne, etc) would even be profitable for Qantas.


Qantas Business on their Dreamliner, which flies direct from London to Sydney. Source: Qantas

How profitable is London to Sydney currently?


Qantas codeshares with Emirates London to Sydney. Source: Qantas

We know from a previous article that their A380 routes that fly from London to Sydney via Singapore can be very profitable.

A current challenge faced is a difference in headwinds. Whilst a direct London to Sydney route might be profitable, the return journey might burn so much fuel and the plane be so light (less cargo or passengers to make the trip) that it negates any profits made.


The 787 Qantas Dreamliner. Source: Qantas

But the main driver of this profit is premium customers; airlines such as Qantas barely make anything off economy passengers. And what do these premium passengers value more than money? Time. They want to get to their destination as quickly as possible and without the hindrance of layovers.

Enter direct routes to Australia. A flight from London to Perth, for example, would normally take around 20 hours. Direct on Qantas, it only takes 16 and a half. This speed advantage means that Qantas can increase prices, to around double what it would normally cost.


Flights leaving tomorrow from Perth to London. Source: Google Flights

First launched in 2018, the London to Perth direct route flown by a Qantas 787 has since achieved load factors of over 90%. This is almost unheard of for a new route.

Qantas is confident that the same load factors will apply for other direct routes, and thus that they will quickly become the most profitable routes in the world.

“But it’s the non-stop flight from Sydney and Melbourne into London and New York that will generate the real excitement. I know Alan Joyce has that in his sights if this goes well.” – CEO of Flight Center, Graham Turner.


Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, celebrates the first direct commercial flight between Sydney and Perth. Source: Qantas

We will have to wait and see. Let us know in the comments what you think!. 

*Technically a 747-400 once flew from London to Darwin direct with no stopping as a publicity stunt, but it had no cargo or passengers on board and minimal crew. It was even towed to the runway as to not burn fuel moving under its own power.

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