Qantas’ first Perth to London flight has taken off, marking the start of the only direct air link between Australia and Europe.
The history-making QF9, carrying more than 200 passengers and 16 crew, pushed back just before 19:00 on Saturday evening and will land in London at 05:00 on Sunday.
Operated by a Boeing 787-9, the flight reduces total travel time by eliminating stopovers and taking advantage of the most favourable winds on any given day without having to factor in a mid-point in the Middle East or Asia when choosing a flight path.
Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.
“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link,” said Joyce.
“The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947.
“Now we can do it in a single leap.
“The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in.
“It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.”
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce checks in for the flight
Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey.
“This is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.
“Boeing designed the Dreamliner with features to reduce jetlag, turbulence and noise.
“We’ve taken that a step further with our cabin design, giving passengers more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.
“We’ve worked with the University of Sydney and our consulting chef Neil Perry to create a menu that helps the body cope better with jetlag and adjusted the timing of when we serve food to encourage sleep.”
The daily QF9 begins in Melbourne, flying to Perth before then flying non-stop to London.
Qantas has adjusted the timing of some domestic services into Perth so that passengers from Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane can join the flight to London.
Today’s first flight coincided with the opening of the airline’s new Perth International Transit Lounge (featuring jetlag reducing lighting as well as pre-flight stretching classes) and relocating of all of the airline’s domestic and international flights into a single terminal at Perth Airport for faster, smoother connections.
Joyce added: “I’d like to specially recognise the support and cooperation of the Federal Government, the West Australian Government and Perth Airport.
“Without their help this flight, and all its broader benefits, wouldn’t be happening.”
Take a look at a series of images from the departure here.