Boeing pitches 777X to Qantas for non-stop London, NY flights

By David Flynn, October 16 2017
Boeing pitches 777X to Qantas for non-stop London, NY flights

Qantas wants to fly non-stop from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York, and Boeing wants those passengers to be flying on its next-generation Boeing 777-8 jetliner.

The airline manufacturer says that the 777-8 – the long-range member of the 777X family, compared to the larger 777-9 – can already make direct flights from Sydney to London: despite this being a 17,000km route when Boeing lists the 777-8's reach at just over 16,100km.

"We know the airplane can make the range today," says Jim Freitas, Managing Director for Boeing's product marketing and analysis.

"It just depends on how many passengers you want to carry, the weight per passenger including their bags, and how much cargo you want.”

Going the distance

Boeing lists the capacity of the Boeing 777-8 as between 350 and 375 passengers in two cabin classes, Freitas says, in order to achieve its 16,100km range.

Boeing 777X concept business class seat. Boeing
Boeing 777X concept business class seat

"It's based on a standard two-class interior but there is no airline in the world that flies a standard interior,' Freitas explains.

"They all have a custom interior, different classes and number of seats and seat weights – there are many variables.”

Boeing 777X concept business class cabin. Boeing
Boeing 777X concept business class cabin

Boeing’s 777-8 is up against the Airbus A350-900ULR in the race to build a globe-striding jet to Qantas’ spec, with Air New Zealand also eying the 777-8 for non-stop flights between Auckland and New York.

Qantas and Boeing have already begun crunching the numbers on right-sizing the 777-8 for these long-legged routes, says Qantas Group C EO Alan Joyce.

“Our ideal is to have all of our classes on board the aircraft, we know there’s a certain amount of business and premium economy and economy we have to have to make the economics work.”

Speaking at Boeing's Everett factory in Seattle, ahead of the delivery of the airline's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Joyce added that direct flights can “absolutely” be priced above stop-over routes.

“We can see that on Perth-London, but there is a limit on what that premium is, because prices still have to be competitive against other airlines.”

However, skipping a stop-over can also save money for the airline.

“We fly aircraft to New York every day but we have to stop at LA, so our economics are impacted by that,” Joyce said.

Beyond London and New York

Joyce says he wants Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to host non-stop flights to New York and London, “and we’d love to be able to fly direct to Brazil, into Rio and Capetown.”

But such a far-reaching network map would require a substantial fleet.

“As with the Boeing 787s, eight is the minimum (to start with) but we’re like to have a lot more than that. You have to get into the teens for the aircraft to have a minimal viable base of operation.”

“We have to replace the A380s and the Boeing 747-400ERs, so some of these will replace existing aircraft but also allow us to change the network when we the take the aircraft in.”

David Flynn is visiting Seattle as a guest of Qantas


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


03 May 2013

Total posts 667

Unless Boeing gets its act together and makes long range and ultra long range aircraft as equally appealing to passengers as Airbus has done... and despite my loyalty to Qantas I wont be sitting on a 777 that far non stop. I already refuse to ever use the 787 Perth London. It's plain too far for such a small aircraft that's still not as quiet as the Airbus A380 or A350. I use the EK A380 or QR A380 - having whisper quiet ride, the space and bar to kill a few hours are real winning factors(let alone the other perks that the A380 as an aircraft and those carriers offer in terms of on the ground and in the air). I don't envy economy passengers in any case but I know they will be happier in an A380/A350 most of the time. So Boeing make your aircraft whisper quiet as the A380 and A350 then it will be true competition from a passenger perspective not just bean counters who crunch numbers.

I think you're forgetting that competition from the perspective of the "bean counters" is in fact more important.

The truth hurts.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Feb 2017

Total posts 4

I too love the A380 but have only experienced the EK. How do you find the very different bar on QF?


03 May 2013

Total posts 667

Being VERY polite chalk and cheese. EK wins hands down. Two different leagues you might say. Even Qatar and Etihad leave Qantas 'lounge-bar' for dead.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 169

Heh Joe - agree & disagree.

Yes with you on the quiet ride of the A350 & A380, having done it with EK, EY, QR, QF & SQ. I'm not a fan of the 787 either. I know the flying crew love Boeing over Airbus - but the punter doesn't. Airbus is a better passenger experience.

As to distance? Straight through for me any day, and, when this day comes, it will indeed be interesting to see the premium on each ticket. I can see the hubs, globally, getting prepared for it now.

The bigger comment above from David was the acknowledgement of replacing A380's, already. I love the big bird, but like Sesame Street, everything sooner or later comes to an end.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 132

The JQ 787 pilots who moved from the A330 were not impressed with their transition.

I spoke to a couple of pilots pre-departure when travelling to HKT - they described the 787 as a "pig" in comparison to to the Airbus.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

Funny you say that. All the Qantas crews say that the Airbus planes always break down and are a pain to work on whereas the Boeing’s a much more favourable.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Dec 2014

Total posts 44

I would hope the A380 is still flying through to the late 2020s/early 2030s as they approach 20. Then a 777-9 or A350-11 could be used to replace them, with a 350-400 seating capacity.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

I think they well get another 10 years at least out to the A380. They will get their full depreciation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

Absolutely agree. The evidence is in the A380 cabin refurbishments now being undertaken -- an exercise typically undertaken by Qantas halfway through an aircraft's usable life.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 46

I would settle for a bunch of used 777s to replace the 747s on the HKG and HNE route. Flew in Philip Island last week. Just as well it was an overnight flight..the IFE was a blast from the past for sure and of course no USB charging ports as they literally weren't in use when the cabin was last refitted. Although credit where due..the additional bathroom adjacent to the L2 door was a plus for Premium Economy travellers as most of the pyjama wearers used the forward Business / First room to change..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 132

AJ should be hassling CASA for Cape Town. The A350-1000 already has that range, so long as CASA allows for ETOPS as the Europeans and Americans have.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jul 2017

Total posts 30

cdinoz, on your comment on pilots preferring Airbus. I spoke to a Virgin Captain 3 weeks back and he was transitioning to a 777 and he commented that he preferred Boeing.

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 14

Borgetti’s point the other week was a valid one. Not how far, but how quick. 20 hrs in any plane is too long. I would like Joyce to push the airlines a little harder on time. No one wants to compete in a marathon before they start their holiday or work. They say time is precious.


03 May 2013

Total posts 667

Agree....Joyce(being a being a mathematician essentially) is always focused on range and cost cutting. Mr Joyce I don't profess to understanding airline operations but I do know as a very frequent traveller that experience is paramount on long/ultra long hauls. Using "big windows" and blue LED lighting hype is well and good but I'd much prefer SPACE, QUIETNESS, HIGH CABIN HUMIDITY and LOWER CABIN PRESSURE ALTITUDE SETTING. I know the 787(and maybe the 777) have have the last 2 but definitely not the first two. 2/4 isn't very good I'd say when you're investing so much in new aircraft. That's why the A380 and A350 currently excel from a passenger perspective they are definetly 4/4. Of course how you decide to configure your aircraft makes a difference too.

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 35

Here we are talking about 777x. It has around one foot wider cabin than A350 family. If airlines stick to 9 abreast in Y like SQ does on their current 777 fleet then it will be more spacious than any A350.

I find GEnx engines on B787-9s are quieter than their RR Trent counterparts. Only the time will tell about quietness of 777x family as they have a new GE9X engine.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622


"...talking about 777x. It has around one foot wider cabin than A350 family."
Actually, about 14 inches wider.

But tech reality/objective facts really doesn't matter around here when subjective bias for 1 type and against another type runs so deep by so many folks here.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 76

I've said it before and I'll say it again.... Direct flights from Sydney to Rio are a pipe dream until the Brazilian government changes the ridiculous visa requirements for Australians (currently tourist visas are valid for 3 months, cost around $250, you need to send your passport to Canberra, and you need to allow 3 weeks for processing).The Brazilians call it reciprocity, except that an Australian tourist visa for a Brazilian is half the price, can be valid for up to 12 months, and the process (including approval) is 100% online. Of the 60 odd countries I've visited, Brazil has the most expensive and cumbersome visa requirements for Australian tourists and this will put off many travellers and also make last minute travel impossible.

Just about the only people that would benefit from a direct flight between Sydney and Rio would be people travelling exclusively between the two cities. I just can't see the demand. If you were travelling to and from any other cities then you are going to need to take two flights and there are much better connections available (such as transiting in Santiago or Sao Paulo - personally I find Santiago an absolute delight to transfer through). The other problem with Rio is that it has one of the worst major city airports in the world and has terrible transport options to and from the airport. I've travelled to Rio about a dozen times and it is one of my favourite cities. However, I avoid the International airport at all costs. I much prefer arriving into the domestic airport which is centrally located and better connected. Rio's International airport also has fairly poor connections to other Brazilian cities (compared to Sao Paulo or Brasilia). The other issue is that most travellers won't be travelling exclusively to Rio (they would almost certainly be visiting other cities in Brazil or countries in South America) so for most savvy travellers the best option would be flying into one city and flying out of another. This would again diminish the demand for a direct flight.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 197

Singapore Airlines is going to be the launch customer for the A350-900ULR which will carry 170 passengers in mainly 'enhance' economy, premium economy and business class configuration.

The current specifications for the A350-900ULR is up to 9,700 nm (17,960 km) which currently meet Qantas's SYD/LHR requirement.

Boeing will have to match and do better than Airbus A350-900ULR with the B777X programme if is wants to get into the ultra long haul market. Looking what progress that Airbus has made with the A350-900/900ULR programme, they are will ahead of Boeing B777X programme.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622


"The current specifications for the A350-900ULR is up to 9,700 nm (17,960 km)."
All technically correct....until U read the fine print for that official nominal range specs. To help achieving such range, nominal seat count/config for a 359ULR is only around 170seats or 155seats /48% fewer than a std config 359.

A fundamental tech truth is that payload(as a result of actual seatcount) is a key factor to determine actual max range of an airplane, not just the nominal max range published by manufacturer(Many folks here often fell into this knowledge trap when declaring type X has superior range to type Y). Otherwise, Alan Joyce is determined to literally murder QF pax on PER->LHR(14,499km not accounting headwind+airway detour) when his 1st 789(nominal range=14,140km) fall off the sky somewhere over France due to fuel exhaustion before reaching Heathrow.

"which currently meet Qantas's SYD/LHR requirement."
If QF requirement/biz model accepts 48% reduction in seat count fm nominal std config on a longhaul flight, QF would no longer need to deploy 380 daily on DFW-SYD. QF would be able to deploy 330 on that route with 2x daily frequencies to vastly enhance AA connection opportunities/options @ DFW. In fact, QF would hv no need for 778 or 359ULR because a 789 @ only 52% of the nominal std seat count(i.e. a 789 with only 150seats) will likely be already capable of SYD-LHR nonstop.

"Boeing will have to match and do better than Airbus A350-900ULR with the B777X.."
Unfortunately, your declaration of which manufacturer needs "to match and do better" is upside down.

The 16,100km nominal range for 778 published by Boeing is for a std config cabin with AT LEAST 350seats or 206% of the total seat count for a 359ULR.

"Looking what progress that Airbus has made with the A350-900/900ULR programme, they are will ahead of Boeing B777X programme."
Actual sales history(as opposed to subjective preference/bias by readers here) so far has proven the opposite.

For 2yrs since 359ULR has been on offer for sale, the type achieved order fm 1 customer for a grand total of 7 frames(all are conversions fm existing order for 359). For nearly 4yrs since 778 has been on offer for sale, the type achieved order fm 3 customers for a grand total of 53 frames(None is a conversion fm a diff type already ordered).

Perhaps focusing too much on "what progress that Airbus has made" but forgetting progress that Boeing has made?

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

What about First Class? Is that planned for the non-stop flights or does QF plan to stop offering First Class entirely.

28 Sep 2017

Total posts 7

Unfortunately most airlines have found that the economics of F don't work out with the exception of a few select routes throughout the world. The Australian market has not been among those for around the past 15-20 years.

04 May 2016

Total posts 34

So direct costs QF less but they will charge more ? Nice work bean counters. Now bugger off.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622


"So direct costs QF less.."
AJ is talking about op cost.

"but they will charge more ?"
If there're sufficient demand to sustain nonstop op and QF is the only game in town, of course QF can charge more. They'll hv a lot of questions fm shareholers to answer if they don't.

"Nice work bean counters."
Yup, nice work for realizing brand new, ultra-capable & state-of-the-art airplanes plus their specific op+maintenance support infrastructure(e.g. flightSim, engineering jigs, etc.) do not suddenly come out of thin air and delivered to airlines free of charge as some consumers or commentators here tend to believe. Glad at least someone in QF realize some folks are actually providing the enormous up-front capital to be locked up as physical asset for decades and demand a reasonable RoI for the risk especially hi-risk in this case given that unlike other QF fleet types, QF has never touched any 350 nor 777(In fact, no airline has yet seen a real 359ULR nor 778).


SilkAir - KrisFlyer

28 Mar 2017

Total posts 17 cannot! The QF bar on the A380 is best avoided if you have experienced the EK version.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 73

If it not Boeing I'm not going...

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Boeing pitches 777X to Qantas for non-stop London, NY flights