AUSTRALIA-UK: FIRST NON-STOP FLIGHT ARRIVES IN LONDON FROM PERTH
Qantas maiden flight (QF9) completed its 14498 km (9,009 miles) journey from Perth in just over 17 hours, after setting off 7pm local time on Saturday; it is the first scheduled non-stop flight between Australia and the UK. The historic flight, on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew.
The Australian flag carrier's Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, has called the new service a "game changing route”. Speaking at an event ahead of the inaugural flight, he said the earliest Qantas flights between Australia and the UK - known as the "kangaroo route" - had taken four days and involved seven stops.
Michael Smith, a pilot and author who was a passenger on the flight, said it removed the "drudgery" of changing planes and disturbing sleep. He also said the aviation "holy grail" would be to fly direct from the east coast of Australia to London or New York.
Western Australia's state government is also hoping to see an increase in tourist numbers as a result of the new direct route.
Some of the passengers shared how amazing and comfortable the 17 hours journey was. To minimize the discomfort of such a long flight, the plane is equipped with features that provide improved air quality and lower cabin noise.
Aviation fans in the UK were up early tracking the plane's flight path and anticipating its landing.
"We have a touchdown!!" wrote Twitter user Andrew Leong, who said it was "a milestone in the aviation industry”. Those arriving in London in the early hours following their historic flight shared images of the welcome they received at Heathrow Airport.
The new Perth-London flight is around three hours faster than other routes that involve stops in the Middle East to change planes or refuel. The flight is the world’s second-longest after Qatar Airways' route from Doha to Auckland, which spans 14,529km, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Other carriers, including Emirates and United Airlines, have also flown non-stop journeys greater than 14,000km.
In 2017, United Airlines launched a route from Los Angeles to Singapore, offering the longest-distance non-stop flight available from the US.
But Singapore Airlines has provided the world's longest flight, travelling more than 15,300km from Singapore to New York on a direct route that was discontinued in 2013.