Dear Captain Lim,
As you may know, Singapore Airlines have recently introduced a direct flight from Singapore to New York, a distance of 16,600 kilometers and an 18 hour flight.
A friend and I have been discussing the possibility of a direct flight from London to Sydney that is a distance of only around 300 kilometers more (i.e. 16,900 kilometers). But the question remains if it is even possible to open a direct flight because of jet streams. And if it were, how long would the flight take approximately?
Do you know anything about this or do you know who else might be able to answer this question?
Thank you in advance.
As far as I know, the only airplane that is capable of flying non-stop from London to Sydney is the latest Boeing 777-200LR (Longer Range). With full tanks, it is fully capable of performing the London-Sydney and Sydney-London flight, with or against the jet stream. Only thing that will happen is that, the return journey (Sydney-London) will require more fuel, making the flight uneconomically viable because the passenger load will be drastically reduced.
On July 18, 2005, the Boeing 777-200LR flew into Sydney with the hope of selling this airplane to Qantas as it could offer a payload of 301 passengers with baggage and a range of 9,420 nautical miles (17,445 kilometers) - just right for the airline*s purpose as the distance from London to Sydney is around 16,900 kilometers. So far, Qantas has not made any firm commitment but was looking at it with interest as the airline has already committed to the Airbus A380. Pakistan International Airlines was the first airline to order this jet followed by Eva Air. Qatar Airways and Air India have also announced orders or commitments for the Boeing 777-200LR.
If such a direct flight is opened, the flight time from London to Sydney will take around 18 hours, depending on the time of the year and the strength of jet stream. It may take around 20 hours on the return journey with only a limited number of passengers.
Would it be possible to open a commercial direct flight because of the jet streams? Yes, it is feasible to launch a direct flight between London and Sydney but on the return journey, it may be a bit problematic payload wise due to the effect of the jet stream.
The next question is; does it appeal to the majority of air travelers? Well, the answer is a mixed one. Whilst some are happy that they need not have to break the journey by spending hours in Qantas*s transit lounges, others are worried about the boredom during the 19 hours flight and the fear of contracting DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). In fact, United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways were among the first to start the longest non-stop scheduled flights between New York and Hong Kong in 2001. Neither of them found the ultra-long-haul flight profitable and has curtailed their flights, passing the baton to Continental Airlines, operating from Newark (New York) to Hong Kong. Recently, I have also heard about the Singapore Airlines flights that commenced their Los Angeles to Singapore flight (18 hours 40 minutes) in early 2004 being cancelled too due to poor load.
So, whether you will see the London-Sydney non-stop flight taking off, will depend on whether Boeing can persuade Qantas to invest on this latest airplane.