Qantas may add Singapore or Hong Kong stopover to Perth-London flight

Qantas will divert its QF9 and QF10 flights around Iranian airspace, but the longer route will require some compromises.

By David Flynn, January 8 2020
Qantas may add Singapore or Hong Kong stopover to Perth-London flight

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 journeyThe 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.


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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1201

Blocking 90 seats is economically unsustainable but would be very comfortable for those actually on the flight.

Flying via SIN does overcome the issue but it makes it a long flight and those originating in MEL would be better off flying to SIN on another QF service and joining QF9 in SIN or alternatively picking up QF1 in SIN or using an EK codeshare via DXB.

27 Aug 2018

Total posts 12

Given the options are either stop in Singapore on the way or drop 90 passengers they should offer 90 passengers coming from Melbourne or Sydney on QF9 some compensation to take the flight via Singapore or Dubai and that way the remaining 150 odd passengers can fly direct from Perth. The options are either 90 people change flight and stop in Singapore (avoiding a stop in Perth and Singapore) or all 240 on qf 9 have to stop in Singapore On the way to London.

"... or using an EK codeshare via DXB ...". Considering the FAA decision "... 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 ..." and accepting that it is somewhat ambiguous and could be read as either of a line from the South most point of Iranian territory to that point of the Saudi border inside Oman, or, a line from the South most point of Iranian territory to that point of the Saudi border on the Persian Gulf (the common Saudi - UAE border on the Persian Gulf), it becomes obvious that DXB is within the no go zone either way.

So, other than a large step in the direction of 'Adventure Tourism', what does "... or using an EK codeshare via DXB ..." do for the individual pax to mitigate the risks that Qantas (and the FAA) seek to avoid?

As an aside, although the SIN track is a little shorter, the HKG track is a worthwhile step toward less unbalanced sector lengths. Better still, via MGQ provides good lateral separation from the designated no go area, a similar runway length to PER, less distance than via HKG and a better balance than both SIN and HKG.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

Dear oh dear Phil and acronyms. What or where is MGQ?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 78

I had to look it up myself: Mogadishu, which would be a hilarious sell. “So we're routing you through Somalia, but don't worry, not the civil war part.”

Flying Kangaroo ... thanks for that. Good call on Mogadishu. It was thrown in partially to be a bit provocative but I should have checked current FAA directives first. Never mind, plenty of unrestricted international airports in the relatively 'immediate' vicinity. The tenor of the main article was, of course, that Qantas needed a 'splash and dash' in order to avoid the designated conflict area and airports on (or close to) the North African East coast would probably 'fit' admirably (and (I'm guessing here) economically).


I've never done QF9/10, but I have a few acquaintances who have. Not a single one of them had said anything other than (more or less) "never, ever, again". I suspect this route is simply a 'ra-ra we have direct flights to London/Europe too' exercise which will be quietly 'put to bed' at some not too distant point.


In the meantime, what exactly is the attraction of a 'direct to London' route which requires the majority of the pax to take a four plus hour local diversion in order to join a faux 'direct to London' flight via an unnecessarily long route? Most East coasters are surely bright enough to work out that a flight from Sydney via Hong Kong or Singapore is WAY less track distance. And if you must have direct to London flights (in the pursuit of national pride) ... (and avoid Iran etc), why not stage via Darwin (all the time)? Way shorter (for East coasters) than via Perth, way North of any middle East conflict. In fact, via Darwin is only 23Km longer than the Sydney direct London great circle track (via Hong Kong 20 Km) ... that's about 1.5 minutes at cruise speed ... and Qantas wants to take you more than 1000 unnecessary km via Perth and (maybe) Singapore. Why?

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1250

Well, I guess this is the risk when you are flying close to the limit of a plane... it doesn't leave you much wriggle room when other factors get involved. Ultimately not much they can do about it and I'm glad they are being safe (as usual).

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

Project Sunrise could soon become Project Sunset!

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 71

Quite the contrary, syd-lhr / mel-lhr would actually be the solution as their flight paths completely avoid the conflict air space.

Qf9/10 was planned to be replaced by sunrise in any case.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1250

Whilst I agree this is not the end of project sunrise, I'm not sure circle map will show us the route QF would use... considering wind and other traffic issues come into things.

Also, I am not sure QF has said that QF9/10 is to be replaced by sunrise

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 163

I didn't use circle mapper for my comment - it was a map published in an article about the sunrise routes, and was further south than the one above, although still north of Iran. Whilst QF9/10 was not intended to be replaced, potentially that's what may need to happen, although they could put a sunrise A350 on that longer route instead of 787 and keep it with a full payload and without a stop.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 119

QF9/10 will survive in its own right. Most of the PAX are starting or stopping their journey in Perth rather than xferring through. J cabin is always full and never on sale either. Other factors like Perth has the highest number of British expats in Australia residing their are contributing to its popularity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 251

Yeah until Russia gets involved and backs Iran!

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1025

That might be the shortest path, but it also isn't one that is likely to be used.

There are other things to factor in, like wind, ATC requirements, etc.

Many airlines, when not flying to China, try to avoid Chinese airspace when possible because of the random delays the PLA-AF creates whenever they feel like it.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 163

Lol that would be ironic, however the most direct flight path from Melbourne to Sydney would likely already be further north of Iran and even Afghanistan, so probably safe for this reason. Sunrise also includes direct NY flights.

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 24

Desperate times call for desperate measures... I wonder whether QF will refund the 30% premium to passengers booked on QF9/QF10 sold as a non-stop product if there's a fuel stop in SIN at the end of the day

Like your sense of humour 'vitorsyd' .

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 103

I wonder whether stopping at Hong Kong is way to far a detour.

Plus there are black police around in Hong Kong, this is going to be avoiding one war zone by going to another war zone.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

Every time I have used Perth London it has come in at 4.30 half an hour early so the schedule won't be put out too much and dropping 90 pax may still be cheaper than a stop. The Dallas flight often drops 100 and still remains one of the most profitable. I think qantas maybkeep a lower load on London for a while as while the load may be 60% the revenue will still be quite high. Not sure the premium is as high as 30% that often as I can book on Perth London route for much the same as via Singapore. The issue is that there are fewer sale fares


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

Like others I don't think the Perth London flight will be affected by the Sydney London direct btu the QF1/2 may be scaled back to a 789 to keep the increase in capacity within bounds.

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 85

Perhaps the Qantas move a little while back to drop the Dubai stopover and resume Singapore for QF1/2 was a stroke of good fortune, given they've clearly decided to avoid Dubai this time.


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

I'd never use QF9/10 in any case-18 hrs on a 787 argh. Just use QF 1/2 a vastly superior experience on the A380 for that ultra long haul route. If I were in MEL I'd fly up to Syd and connect.

Agree A380 still a very tough act to follow ... but don't think I'd go to the trouble of a commute to Sydney. Think I'd probably grab a Cathay Pacific A350-1000 ... not too shabby at all.

I do understand Qantas has agreements with Hong Kong and Singapore airports and airlines, but this solution is going to lose the whole appeal of the Perth-London flight, which is not just connecting Australia to the UK, but to Europe. Why not flying to another European destination instead of Asian to refuel? This would keep the appeal of flying from Australia to Europe. Suggestion: Perth-Helsinki, an agreement that could be arranged with their ONE WORLD partner FINNAIR. The distance from Perth to Helsinki is just a bit over 13.000 km and the Finnish capital is just OVER 1000 km from London with daily flights with its partners' BRITISH AIRWAYS and FINNAIR. And fundamentally the route completely avoids the Middle East and it is a straight line.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 78

Qantas claims the fuel stop would be preferable because it would "minimise disruption" on "these heavily booked flights." As has been noted, these flights are full at a premium price in large part because of the nonstop nature of the service. That stop is a disruption for all and undoes a lot of the rationale that led people to book the flight in the first place. It seems temporarily cutting 90 pax from the flight and operating nonstop would save the reputation of the service and not disrupt all pax. The problem, of course, is who gets cut, but I think we know what end of the plane they might considering starting with.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 24

I have been using QF10 regularly for PER MEL as it best fits in with my connections from rural WA.

It usually spends around 2-2.5 h on the ground in PER. Maybe this is longer than is actually needed for refuelling and provisioning for a 3 h final leg and I am sure the LHR PER MEL passengers would appreciate a shorter layover. (They May also appreciate some improvement in the baggage retrieval at MEL which has added over 45 minutes to what had been a very arduous journey. )

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 68

Actually i had a lot of theories but realized the answer is staring me in the face.

Qantas adding First to 787-9s

Intriguing layout suggestion for a 787. Single isle cigar tube up front ... twin isle cigar tube down the back?

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