Emirates will soon supplant Qantas as the operator of the world’s longest commercial flight with its service to Panama City – but not for long it would appear.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has announced the airline plans to “open up direct [nonstop] service from Australia to Europe for the first time”, according to an Air Transport World report.

The Australian carrier will operate the B787-9, which it expects to take delivery of in 2017 (see news, August 20), on the Perth-London Heathrow route.

Services between Australia and Europe have traditionally required a refuelling layover due to the enormous distances covered. Qantas had previously used Singapore as its stopover hub, but following a partnership with Emirates in 2013 it re-routed all of its European flights via Dubai.

Today, Qantas’ lone European destination is London Heathrow, to where it operates flights from Sydney and Melbourne. The proposed Perth–London nonstop service is expected to complement these links.

Thanks to the extended range afforded by the B787-9, a nonstop service between Perth and London is possible, though gruelling even for the most seasoned traveller.

Crossing eight time zones, the distance is around 14,500 kilometres – more than 650 kilometres further than Emirates’ forthcoming service to Panama City (see news, August 13).


Clement Huang