Qantas cancels long-haul flights from London to LA

There’s been talk of long-haul direct flights from London to Sydney ever since Qantas announced last year that it would pursue routes from London to Singapore, Beijing, and San Francisco.

First, there was talk in March this year, after Qantas confirmed it would attempt to start flights from London to Melbourne. And then it was almost immediately followed by a talk about flights from London to New York in June.

Early this week, British politician Louise Mensch expressed disappointment with the news that the Boeing 787 had been canned from Qantas’ mid-London flights.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the report, headlined “100 year British Airways monopoly to end,” was “completely inaccurate” and that the mega-budget airline would not run international operations or flights from Britain to Australia or from Australia to Britain. The British Airways contract expires in December 2014, Joyce said. Qantas will continue to fly to London from Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland.

Joyce said the longest-haul flight in Qantas’ network “is still in the planning phase.” But he denied the long-haul option has been abandoned. “I am not going to answer about the length of the Singapore to London-Melbourne [flight] either,” he said. The process for finalizing international routes “is evolving, but this is not the case of jettisoning it. We are very committed to trying to grow the international business.”

The longest-haul route currently being served is Sydney to LAX, which has an estimated distance of 6,356 nautical miles, measured as the distance between three points. Qantas has tried to break into that market by starting services to Los Angeles, also on the 787, between 2012 and 2014, and again from 2015.

A Chinese company has shown interest in running long-haul flights from Hong Kong to London, London to New York, and to Australia, but would need approval from both Australian and Chinese governments. But there have been no announcement of new non-stop flights, said Joyce.

Qantas noted its popular Dreamliner long-haul fleet has “five of the world’s longest-range passenger jets available for operations from London-Sydney-Sydney, Sydney-Singapore, Singapore-Singapore and Singapore-Sydney.”

But Joyce said that “to be able to turn out a 787 to meet every route and have flying hours that are the optimum for the route would require a major investment.”

“Right now we have a fleet that will run non-stop services for decades to come, and we are very well placed to fulfill the demand for traffic to and from the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

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