Hostilities between the US and Iran could see Qantas forced to add a brief stopover in Singapore or even Hong Kong to its direct Perth-London Boeing 787 service.
The daily QF9 and QF10 flights, which Qantas launched to much fanfare in March 2018, currently traverse Iranian airspace but will now be giving the area a wide berth, in light of a decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration to ban US carriers from flying over a large swath of the Middle East – specifically Iran, Iraq, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf between Iran and Saudi Arabia – "due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions."
Several other international airlines are following the FAA's lead, but in the case of Qantas' Perth-London flights, the longer route will impact the route's finely-tuned economics which balance the number of passengers against the Boeing 787-9's fuel capacity.
A Qantas spokesman says that as many as 90 seats will be left vacant on the Perth-London QF9 flight in order to reduce the overall weight and compensate for the diversion, which will now bypass Iran and Iraq and track across Afghanistan, adding around 40-50 minutes to the journey. The red-tailed Boeing 787-9 normally carries 236 passengers.
However, a Qantas spokesperson tells Executive Traveller the airline is "looking at temporarily routing QF9 through Asia until we’re able to return to our normal flight path through the Middle East."
"This would mean a fuel stop in a city like Singapore or Hong Kong but it would enable us to still carry a full load of passengers on these heavily-booked flights, and minimise disruption that way. We’ll reach out to passengers directly if there’s any change to their booking.”
The London-Perth QF10 service will carry a full complement of passengers and continue to fly non-stop, as this return leg takes advantage of high tailwinds.