Written by By Laura Kennedy, CNN London
Despite recent speculation of this possibility, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce denies that Australia’s flag carrier has finalised plans to fly nonstop between London and Sydney, a project they refer to as the “London-Sydney flight.”
Joyce told reporters during a press conference in Sydney that the plans were “still in the process.”
“We’ve been in discussions with a number of airlines — and Qantas Group has been in discussions with several people — including Virgin Australia,” Joyce said.
“As to any specific airlines, I don’t comment on those discussions.”
Initially published by The Age newspaper in Australia last month, the report said that Virgin Group — which owns over a quarter of Qantas via a half share of Virgin Australia — is seeking more partnerships in Asia to counteract Qantas’ upcoming move to fly nonstop between Australia and London via Singapore.
Virgin Australia has given “strong indications” that it is interested in expanding its partnership with Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines (Singapore’s second-largest airline), to include a long-haul, long-flight route between Dubai and Sydney, the report said.
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In this new partnership, Qantas would co-operate on joint operating, pricing and revenue optimization opportunities with both Singapore Airlines and Emirates. It could also help each airline access new sales channels and provide demand forecasting services.
The partnership is expected to begin by the end of this year.
Singapore Airlines in January was forced to cut 40 flights between Singapore and London — including flight SQ23 from London to Singapore and flight SQ25 from Singapore to London — following the grounding of its entire fleet of the slow-moving 787 Dreamliner.
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Last week, the airline confirmed it was taking delivery of its first Dreamliner, although all its 55 787-8 aircraft are still grounded. It hopes to resume flights with the new planes from late this year or early next.
Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong has said that it’s now too late to capitalise on the Dreamliner grounding, according to Australian Associated Press.
How long will ultra long-haul flights last?
Nonstop flights like this one from Boston to Sydney are still in the works. Credit: James Pilkington/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Qantas’ proposed “long-haul, long-flight” route between Sydney and London would represent an upgrade to the existing direct flight that currently runs from London’s Heathrow airport to Sydney International Airport.
Qantas’ Sydney-to-London nonstop flight “is still in the process of being developed and was only recently reviewed as an opportunity for Qantas to deliver a more competitive service,” Joyce said at the press conference.
“Qantas continues to be committed to exploring nonstop services to Europe as an extension of its links with those key destinations across the world.”
It comes just two weeks after American airline Delta applied for permission to fly from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Seoul, South Korea, a “long-haul, long-flight” route that would be operated with Airbus’ A350 airliner.
“It’s on our priority list,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told analysts.