Qantas recently announced plans to launch non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to New York and London, alongside the purchase of new planes to complete the epic journey.
The flying kangaroo’s new routes are banking on flyers wanting to avoid layovers and get the long journey done in one go.
But of course, this will come at a cost and that cost could be the price of a new compact car, according to the Australian Financial Review.
While fairs may differ when the flights start, a business ticket could cost more than $18,000 based on October listed flights on Kayak for the same route with a stop in Los Angeles, the AFR reported.
Not all passengers are ready to spend an entire day non-stop in economy class, so these “Project Sunrise” flights – as Qantas are calling them – will have huge physical, mental and financial demands on passengers.
41 per cent of the 238 seats on the new flights will be in first, business, and premium economy class – showing Qantas’ key market with the flights.
“There would be few circumstances where I’d be prepared to pay a hefty premium for a slightly shorter journey time,” said Nigel Lake, executive chairman of Pottinger Co., a corporate advisory business with operations straddling New York and Sydney.
Prior to the pandemic, Lake was frequently taking the Qantas flight which stopped over in LA. He said he would continue to take the two-flight route so he could shower at the airport lounge and take a walk before the next leg of his flight.
Qantas is banking on flyers wanting to avoid layovers and be willing to pay 30 per cent for the direct flight. By normalising the non-stop flight to these destinations, Qantas could see as much as $641 million added to its market value, according to Jarden Research.
The success of these services could possibly lead to non-stop services all over the world and the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said the airline is considering flying direct to Paris, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro.
However, the failure of these flights could be catastrophic, as the fleet will cost $3.64 billion according to Jarden analyst Jakob Cakarnis, although he had expected Qantas to initially order only five or six of the aircraft.
The airline said the price difference for direct flights, at least in premium seats, will be similar to its nonstop Perth-London route, where tickets can be more than 30 per cent dearer than trips via Singapore or Dubai.
Return Qantas economy fairs to New York via LA are about $3,000 according to Kayak. This may leave competing airlines to snatch up economy passengers, Rico Merkert, transport professor at the University of Sydney’s business school, told Bloomberg.
“These ultra-long haul flights are designed for the premium market,” Merkert said.
“Many leisure travellers will still use the indirect flights of, say, Emirates.”