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Qantas to conquer ‘last frontier’ of commercial flight within 5 years

  • London to Sydney direct would take 20 hours.
  • Boeing and Airbus vying to help make journey possible.
  • Direct to New York from Sydney also targeted.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

The Australian airline Qantas says it is committed to achieving the world's longest non-stop flight between London and Sydney by 2022.

The flight between the glamour capitals would take 20 hours and, according to the airline, will slash 3 hours off the fastest current trips that incorporate stops in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore or Dubai.

The airline said it will now spend a year working with engineers on both Boeing's 777-x and Airbus's A350 aircraft to develop technology that will allow the trip.

Speaking after positive company results, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described London to Sydney as the "last frontier" of commercial aviation. He also touted New York and Paris as possible non-stop destinations.

John Strickland, director at JLS Consulting, told CNBC Friday that a 20-hour direct journey to Sydney or Melbourne from London would generate higher fares for the airline.

"They are not going to put in as many seats as they could. It is going to be about 235 seats.

"That means even in economy there will be more space, so I think they will get a price premium because people do just want to get the journey done with no stop.

"It is not for everyone," the airline analyst added.

Next March, Qantas will fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for 17 hours direct from London to Perth on Australia's west coast, a distance of just over 7,829 nautical miles (14,500 km).

The current longest non-stop scheduled airline flight is Qatar Airways Flight 921 from Auckland, New Zealand to Doha, Qatar.

Sky high earnings

Qantas Airways reported its second-highest result in the company's history on Friday.

The airline's underlying profit before tax rose to A$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) for the year ending on June 30.

That was above the A$1.38 billion pre-tax profit forecast by Reuters.

Qantas stock erased a fall of more than 2 percent in early trade to climb 3.79 percent by the end of the session.