The countdown clock is ticking on Qantas' ambitious plans to launch non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York, with the airline ready to place an order for ultra-long range Airbus or Boeing jets next year for flights from 2022.
"We're having good dialog with both Boeing and Airbus, and I think we're getting to a stage technically where we know what the aircraft is going to be in the next few months," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said on the sidelines of the IATA aviation summit in Sydney.
"We're hopeful that if the business case works, in 2019 we’ll put an order in for the aircraft to arrive in 2022, and and I think Boeing and Airbus are keeping slots for us, so its feasible for us to do it at that stage."
Meanwhile, Qantas has already run the ruler over potential non-stop routes for what Joyce described as a "reasonably sized fleet" of the long-legged jets.
"London from Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane is something we'd like to do (and) we have the slots in London," Joyce said. "We have Paris and Frankfurt on the list, so we'd like to work through whether they're do-able."
"But the big opportunity is also to the US," Joyce added, citing both New York and Chicago for possible non-stops. "We already fly a 747 from LA to New York so we know we can make that work today. the traffic's there for it."