Australian airline Qantas has announced plans for the world’s longest commercial flight.

Beginning in March 2018, passengers will be able to fly non-stop from London to Perth in Australia. At 14,498 kilometres long, the journey is expected to take around 17 hours. The flight will be operated using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

 A mock-up of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in Qantas livery

In 1947, when Qantas launched its pioneering Kangaroo route, the flight from Sydney to London took four days. There were nine stops along the way. The Lockheed Constellation 749 aircraft carried 29 passengers and 11 crew members. To modern air travellers, a four-day itinerary is the stuff of economy-class nightmares. But before the kangaroo route, getting from Australia to the UK was likely to involve six weeks at sea on a ship.

A transformational route

Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment, Steven Ciobo, praised the announcement, saying it would transform Perth Airport into a hub for passengers from the Australian East Coast, creating more jobs in the area.

Ciobo also hopes that the new route would boost tourism in the region. According to the minister, 660,000 people travelled from Britain to Australia in 2015, spending an estimated $3.7 billion. A daily service would create 86,000 additional seats between London and Perth every year. The tourism sector is extremely important to the Australian economy. It’s currently growing three times faster than the rest of the national economy, and has created around 580,000 jobs.

The CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, was also extremely positive about the benefits of the new route. "It's great news for travellers because it will make it easier to get to London,” he said. “It's great news for western Australia because it will bring jobs and tourism. And it's great news for the nation, because it will bring us closer to one of our biggest trade partners and sources of visitors."

At present, the longest non-stop commercial flight is operated by Emirates Airlines. The route between Dubai and Auckland in New Zealand covers 14,200km in 16.5 hours. The new Qantas service would exceed that by nearly 300km, allowing the airline to regain the crown as operator of the world’s longest flight.