Qantas to keep Perth-London alongside non-stop Project Sunrise flights

The next few years could see Qantas flying several variants of the Kangaroo Route.

By David Flynn, January 10 2020
Qantas to keep Perth-London alongside non-stop Project Sunrise flights

Qantas says that it will retain direct flights between Perth and London, even if plans for non-stop Project Sunrise flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London get the green light.

The airline expects to make "a final go/no go decision" in March 2020, pending negotiation with its pilots and regulatory approval by the Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

“Between the research flights and what we’ve learned from two years of flying Perth to London, we have a lot of confidence in the market for direct services like London and New York to the east coast of Australia," says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

But those marathon Airbus A350-1000 flights won't come at the expense of Perth-London's Boeing 787-9 service.

"What we’re seeing, which is really encouraging, is how well Perth-London is doing, particularly with our passenger traffic," Joyce told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the IATA aviation conference, held in Seoul in June 2019. "Over 75% originates or terminates in Perth for that flight."

"So what that has shown is that we can do Project Sunrise in addition – we wouldn’t take Perth-London out."

Project Sunrise flights from the east coast capitals to London won't replace the current Perth-London service.
Project Sunrise flights from the east coast capitals to London won't replace the current Perth-London service.

This would see Qantas serving up the Kangaroo Route in three flavours:

  • the non-stop Boeing 787-9 from Perth to London (with the option for Melbourne-based travellers to begin this with a domestic Melbourne-Perth leg)
  • the long-range Airbus A350-1000 Project Sunrise fleet flying non-stop from Sydney, Melbourne and potentially Brisbane to London
  • the Airbus A380 superjumbo from Sydney to London via Singapore

Fares on the two non-stop routes would be priced higher than flights involving a Singapore stopover, based on their appeal to time-pressed travellers – Qantas has suggested the Project Sunrise services will carry a premium of "20 to 30 per cent".

Joyce remains keen on extending its Perth-based non-stop network to Paris and even Frankfurt, provided the airline can settle its ongoing dispute with Perth Airport over fees for access to the runways and other airport infrastructure.

“Today, we would be in the process of preparing for further services out of Perth into Europe – we would be ordering aircraft to do Perth to Paris, which would be the next one on our list, except for the fact that there’s a dispute with Perth Airport," Joyce said.

As it happens, Paris and Frankfurt are also Project Sunrise destinations, "so there’s a possibility with Paris and Frankfurt where you could have both an east coast and a west coast operation."

Read more: Qantas' three-pronged Europe strategy: Sunrise, Singapore and Emirates 

Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin


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 1035

QF only has 4 slot pairs at LHR, 2 it currently uses and 2 currently leased to BA. With slot pairs at LHR selling for over $100M it is unlikely QF would be interested in pbuying another pair so it is really limited to 4 daily flights. This would seem to be:




- 789 PER-LHR

On this scenario, I'd expect the domestic tag on the PER-LHR flight to change from MEL to BNE.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1394

Domestic tag from BNE doesn't make much sense due to the extra distance flown which adds well over an hour to the flying time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 101

Maybe they'll do BNE and MEL on a 3/4 day split, being as Sydney centric as they are

01 Jun 2017

Total posts 13

Not even sure whether it will be A380 for SYD-SIN-LHR. There will be over capacity. Likely downgrade from A380 to 787 and deploy the A380 to do the other daily run of SYD-SIN.

As it is now with only A380 for SYD-SIN-LHR and 787 for MEL-PER-LHR, it is just about the right capacity allowing QF to claim MEL-PER-LHR a trophy flight.

30 Nov 2016

Total posts 18

Domestic tag no really necessary to change as people from BNE (and SYD for that matter) can still get a dom flight to PER.

Likewise people from BNE and MEL could still travel via Singapore taking their respective flights to SIN and meeting the 1 through to LHR

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1035

The tag is necessary as the 789 operating LHR-PER needs to return to the east cost for maintenance purposes. QF has no heavy maintenance capabilities for 787s in PER.

You are correct that BNE and MEL pax could join QF1 in SIN just as they do now but the ability to have a same plane single stop service from BNE to LHR would be attractive to QF's business customers. MEL business pax are probably not in the same category assuming they have access to the non-stop A350 service.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 184

Qantas now plan to replace the Tuesday 787 on the MEL-PER leg with a 330 (starting 11th Feb), so will be interesting to find out where the 787 will go to/from Perth. Perhaps BNE?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1035

I would guess that it does another PER-LHR-PER cycle before returning east.


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 624

It will head back to London as the inbound Melbourne-Perth will also be an A330. As reported here (I think) the reasoning is that plane would sit in Melbourne all day as on that day it isn't needed to fly into the US out of Melbourne which in turn frees up another 787 do do an extra US flight out of Brisbane.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 335

So much speculation, let's just wait and see what QF announce.

Being based in BNE, I would continue flying via Singapore rather than same aircraft option via Perth, should a direct option not be available.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 122

As expected the flight is doing very well and most PAX are stopping or starting with Perth as the first or final destination. Premium cabin always full and never on sale always a good sign.


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 624

In many ways if loads are good it would make a lot of sense to order a few more A350's (assuming the order goes ahead) and change QF9/10 to an A350 too and provide better connecting flights from places like Adelaide and Canberra.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 147

If 75% of traffic originates or terminated in Perth it doesn't build a strong case of MEL to LHR.

Perhaps MEL will get another European destination.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1394

That just shows demand for the non-stop. MEL-PER-LHR is just another one-stopper, albeit with a slightly longer leg. QF can't really get a premium for that so would prefer PER or WA regional customers.

MEL and SYD direct are a different ball game.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1266

I'm not sure about this? Qantas wouldn't be wanting just to move current MEL-PER-LHR onto direct MEL-LHR services. They also have MEL-SIN-LHR, MEL-DXB-LHR (codeshare), customers in other ports to transit through MEL and then also attract customers who currently fly other airlines but would be interested in flying direct (Yes, I know not everyone wants to fly direct!).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Mar 2019

Total posts 21

Hope QF can resolve the issue with Perth Airport so we can see PER-CDG and PER-FRA happening.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1266

And PER-JNB... the stupidity of Perth airport is really outstanding.

I'm not Finnish, nor Scandinavian. But take a look at this:
1. Distance Perth to Helsinki (avoiding Iraq, Iran and Ukraine): 8,139.62 mi (13,099.46 km)
2. Distance Perth to London (NOT avoiding Iraq, Iran and Ukraine): 8,999.55 mi (14,483.38 km)
3. Distance London to Helsinki: 1,131.59 mi (1,821.11 km)
4. Direct Flights between Helsinki and London with ONE WORLD partner BRITISH AIRWAYS: 1
5. Direct Flights between Helsinki and London with ONE WORLD partner FINNAIR: 5-7
6. Helsinki airport awarded the best customer service in Europe

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1027

Would Qantas want to go to Helsinki though?

The Air Service Agreement with Finland allows for 2800 seats/week with no apparent 5th freedom allowance (meaning they then couldn't fly on to elsewhere in Europe).

This would allow 11 flights/week with the current QF 787-9 config, 9 flights with the planned Sunrise capacity (300 seats) or 5 flights/week with an A380. (this is better then Mainland France which allows for 6 789 flights, 4 Sunrise flights or 3 A380 flights/week from Australia to Paris)

Where as AU-UK is unlimited flights, limited only by airport capacity.

15 Oct 2019

Total posts 9

Think I'll stick with BNE - SIN - LHR on the A380, thanks. When's it going to be replaced, and then, with what? (Also, I'll forget "Sunrise" and go BNE - LAX - ORD. The thought of being squeezed for an extra 4-5 hours in a 787 would have me pawing at the carpet. As for non-stop to New York - eeeeeh!

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