Qantas is a day away from claiming second place on the list of world’s longest passenger flight measured by distance.
When the Australian carrier’s 7,829nm London Heathrow-Perth nonstop service with Boeing 787-9 equipment takes off on Saturday March 24, it will trail only Qatar Airways’ 7,848nm Auckland-Doha flight.
The QF9/10 rotation, which links the continents of Europe and Australia with a regularly scheduled nonstop passenger service for the first time, will be Qantas’s second entry on the list alongside its Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth flight.
The Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth route, at 7,454nm, held the record for the world’s longest flight when it kicked off in 2011 with Boeing 747-400ERs as part of a Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth-Brisbane-Sydney rotation.
The Brisbane stop was eliminated in 2014, when Qantas upgauged the service to the Airbus A380.
VIDEO: A 2014 Qantas video on its YouTube channel explains the switch to the A380 on the Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth route.
However, Emirates knocked Qantas off the top spot in February 2016, when it began nonstop flights between Auckland and its Dubai hub (7,668nm) with the Airbus A380.
Qatar Airways then claimed the title off Emirates in February 2017, when it started Auckland-Doha (7,848) with Boeing 777-200LRs.
Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth has slid further down the table over the past couple of years, as Singapore Airlines and United commenced nonstop San Francisco-Singapore flights.
United has three entries in the top 10 with San Francisco-Singapore, Los Angeles-Singapore and Houston-Sydney. All are operated with Boeing 787-9s.
Looking ahead, Singapore Airlines (SIA) looks set to reclaim the title when it resumes Singapore-New York nonstop flights (8,285nm) later in 2018, after it takes delivery of Airbus A350-900ULRs earmarked for the route.
SIA is also planning to join United on the Los Angeles-Singapore route with the ultra long-range variant of the Airbus A350-900.
And projecting further into the future, Qantas has set Airbus and Boeing the challenge to develop an aircraft capable of flying nonstop to London and New York from Australia’s east coast with sufficient payload to make the routes economic to operate by 2022.
The Project Sunrise challenge pits the Airbus A350-900ULR against the Boeing’s 777-8X.
In still air Sydney-London Heathrow is 9,188nm, while Sydney-New York JFK is 8,646nm.
While Auckland-Doha is the world’s longest passenger flight measured by the great circle distance, it should be noted Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight, when operated eastwards from India over the Pacific Ocean to take advantage of tailwinds, can cover a distance of more than 8,000nm. The route is served with Boeing 777-200LR.
VIDEO: The inaugural Air India service featured on San Francisco Airport’s YouTube channel
There are no low-cost carriers (LCC) in the top 10 longest routes.
The longest route by distance operated by an LCC is Norwegian’s London Gatwick-Singapore flight at 5,873nm which began in September 2017.
Current longest nonstop passenger flights by distance (nautical miles)
1. Auckland-Doha (7,848nm) – operated by Qatar Airways with Boeing 777-200LR.
2. London Heathrow-Perth (7,829nm) – operated by Qantas Airways with Boeing 787-9 starts March 24 2018
3. Auckland-Dubai (7,668nm) – operated by Emirates Airline with Airbus A380
4. Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9
5. Houston-Sydney (7,470nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9
6. Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,454nm) – operated by Qantas with Airbus A380
7. San Francisco-Singapore (7,339nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9 and Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900
8. Atlanta-Johannesburg (7,333nm) – operated by Delta Air Lines with Boeing 777-200LR
9. Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles (7,291nm) – operated by Etihad Airways with Boeing 777-300ER
Planned future routes
1. New York (Newark*)-Singapore (8,285nm) – to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018. (*Airport choice not confirmed)
2. Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) – to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018
3. Manila-New York (JFK) (7,404nm) – to be operated by Philippine Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018
4. Hong Kong-Washington DC (7,085nm) to be operated by Cathay Pacific with Airbus A350-1000. From September 2018
1. Sydney-London (LHR) (9,188nm) – Qantas
2. Sydney-New York (JFK) (8,646nm) – Qantas
3. Sydney-Chicago (ORD) (8,022nm) – Qantas
4. Melbourne-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,814nm) – Qantas
5. Auckland-New York (JFK) (7,672nm) – Air New Zealand