back to all news

Qantas eyes non-stop Sydney-New York flights with Boeing 777-8X

By Chris Chamberlin     Filed under: qantas, sydney, New York, Boeing 777X

Qantas has its eye on non-stop Sydney to New York flights using the advanced Boeing 777-8X jetliner, which the airline has touted as a potential replacement for its flagship Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The direct route would swap the long-standing Los Angeles stopover for a 19 hour 'Harbour Bridge to Hudson' trek, which would not only be Qantas' longest flight but the world's longest.

But it will require the next-generation of aircraft due in the early part of the next decade, when Qantas will look to refresh its long-range international fleet.

Speaking at a media lunch in Sydney last week, Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce revealed that the airline “puts 300 people a day to New York anyway, so the market’s growing – it’s just that we can’t do (non-stop) with the technology (we have today).

“Once the technology happens we would go there straight away" Joyce told Australian Business Traveller.

"We’re looking at the new 777-8X that would potentially have the range to do it, but that doesn’t come until (the early) 2020s.”

Qantas already plans to begin flying the smaller Boeing 787-9 from late 2017 but the Boeing 777-8X is very much under consideration.

“We’ve got people that work with Boeing and Airbus – we have worked (together) on the A380, we did a lot of work with the 787 (and) we’re doing work with them on the 777(-8X),” Joyce said.

Also read: Qantas flags Boeing 777X as potential A380 replacement

When asked if there was really a market for passengers willing to take such a long flight, Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans gave an unequivocal “yes”.

“It might not be for everybody,” Evans continues. “If you don’t want to do that then there are plenty of opportunities to connect over Dallas or LA, but there will be a market of people who want to get on the plane and get off where their ultimate destination is.”

Evans also highlights that on a route this long, the aircraft needs to be “configured appropriately”, with a “premium configuration” currently under assessment, paired with “the right amount of galley space” to store and prepare what could become three inflight meals for each passenger.

“It’s going to have to have the ability to look after customers for long amounts of time… (and) the technology that’s coming with the 777-X can facilitate that, absolutely; we’d want to fly it.”

Ultra-long flights: the new norm

Joyce takes a page out of history when looking to the future of flying, noting that Qantas’ flights from Sydney to Vancouver in 1954 detoured via Fiji, Hawaii and San Francisco, which meant a total of 31 hours spent flying in between, but with the stops helping to break up the time.

“Back then, people were saying ‘imagine flying direct – that would be too long on an aircraft for 14 hours’”, Joyce continues, “yet now people would never do those kinds of (routings) with today’s aircraft.”

Would passengers really want to fly non-stop?

Passengers on today’s Qantas Sydney-New York flights break the journey at LAX with 1hr 55m between touchdown and take-off, during which they can stretch their legs and squeeze in a quick shower in the lounge before completing their 21hr journey.

Eliminating that stop would bring the trip closer to 19 hours, but that’s still 3.5 hours longer than today's Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth run.

Singapore Airlines is also eying non-stop flights to New York from its home hub in 2018 using a special long-range version of the Airbus A350.

Those long-legged A350s will also carry fewer passengers than the conventional A350 which SQ will begin flying in January 2015, but they'll enjoy more comfort thanks to all-new business and first class seating.

Read more: Singapore Airlines 'all-new' business class on long-range A350

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


About Chris Chamberlin

Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 17/11/15 by riley

It's a long time in the air. I'd only do it in J or better.

My preference for NY is to route through Tokyo.

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

9 hours SYD-TYO, then 12 TYO-JFK?

(Though I just did PVG-ITM via HKG, SIN and HND, and ITM-CBR via HND, SIN and MEL)

2 on 20/11/15 by QantasFlyer

I think stopover in LA is ideal option: this allows passengers to travel on to Melbourne and Brisbane more directly.

2 on 17/11/15 by AWA2602

Oh hell no! 19 hours in First would be just barely tolerable. Two 8-10 hour legs with a 90-120min transit stop in the middle will do nicely, thank you.

1 on 17/11/15 by Hugo

I've always said that if I had lots of money I'd buy Hawaiian Airlines and turn HNL into the Dubai of the Pacific, connecting every major city in the Americas to every major city in the Asia-Pacific with one tolerable stop.

1 on 17/11/15 by AWA2602

I would love a SYD-HNL-JFK option with a QF A330-300! 9hr 45min on each leg, just enough time for decent sleep and another whole leg to do a day's work. It'd be the perfect way to get from Australia to NYC!

2 on 18/11/15 by pzlams

Careful with that - the Americas is a big place! As a Santiago-based flyer, no way do I want to go that far out of my way... ;)

3 on 17/11/15 by k

i could imagine that an onboard treadmill would be more attractive than an onboard lounge for flights of this length

4 on 17/11/15 by Serg

All the same I rather take stopover in LA - 14hr to LA is already long enough.

1 on 17/11/15 by Shoudy

Not only that but you could also have a stop over @ SF. That would calm yourself down after a long flight from SYD. 

5 on 17/11/15 by smit0847

More pie in the sky ideas. This aircraft wont be available until the next decade. Knowing QF, like the 787 they'll wait to decide if they want it, and then place an order that will take several years to fufil. So, realistically, it could easily be 15 years before they even take delivery of the aircraft, let alone start pitching a non-stop route.

Who knows what will happen in 15 years? Remember those additional 8 A380s QF ordered but then never actually confirmed?!

1 on 17/11/15 by SYD YVR

Before unloading on past or current management do some basic fact checking.

The Qantas group first ordered the 787 in 1995.It was the largest 787 order for 4-5 years.

Endless delays on the 787 program,all very well documented.When Boeing finally got it to it's launch customer(Air Nippon)it was October 2011.

First entered service with Qantas group Nov 2013.

More info here.

1 on 17/11/15 by SYD YVR

I of course meant to say they placed their order in 2005 not 1995.

2 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

Those 8 A380s are on order. They were going to be delivered 2-3 years ago, until QF put them all on deferal. They'll have to decide what they want to do with those orders next year (deliver, cancel, convert to 350).

1 on 17/11/15 by Christopher

Convert to a320neo so they have enough a320neos to replaces Qantas and Jetstar narrowbody fleet?

6 on 17/11/15 by bilauta

This raises a rather interesting scenario for Perth dwellers looking to fly to NY once both SIA and Qantas commence nonstop services to the city. Given that both flights are bound to be roughly 19 hours long, and given that PER-SIN and PER-SYD are roughly the same distance (SIN's just a little bit farther), I suppose SIA might end up cannibalising the route for those living in WA... and they'll have an enormous advantage and head start over Qantas because their flights will commence in 2018. 

  19 hours on SIA vs the same on Qantas? Only a fool would choose the latter. 

7 on 17/11/15 by wilsoni

With showers, a bar and all First and Business? Maybe.

8 on 17/11/15 by Christopher

What's other routes could use the 8X? 

Melbourne - Dallas, Perth - London.

wouldnt a mixture of 8X and 9X be better?

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

SYD-JFK, MEL-DFW and PER-LHR are very much archetypal 8X routes. I guess SYD-DFW also would count as a potential 8X route (even though the 787-9 could handle it, the length of the flight alone would create premium demand especially from Sydney). SYD - Chicago could also be done on an 8X. So could PER - LAX.

All of these would obviously take out some of the traffic which QF currently sends to LAX via its A380 services.

This would lead me to conclude that 777X-9s may have a place as the A380 replacement for the "trunk" routes... SYD/MEL to both DXB (and onward to LHR) and LAX. I could also see the 777X-9 being used to SFO.

Interesting how QF describe the -8 as having a capacity of 300. Boeing list the -8 as having a capacity of 350... If the -8 has only 300 people on it, we can expect First Class on the aircraft, a substantial Business section, and Premium Economy.



9 on 17/11/15 by Tom

I guess Qantas are parting from Airbus.

10 on 17/11/15 by Mark

Why do you say that? They have 90+ A320 NEO's on order. Also by the time the next fleet upgrades are signed off, Joyce will probably be gone and the next CEO might have other ideas on future long haul fleets.

1 on 17/11/15 by Christopher

Yeah apart from the huge option of a320neos it does seem like Qantas' future wide body aircraft will be from Boeing, 787-9/10 and B777X

1 on 17/11/15 by Tom

I say that because the A320 NEO's are going to mainly be used for JQ

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

That's not for sure. Part of that A320 order was meant for the premium "RedQ" and Jetstar Hong Kong, both of which aren't happening.

The aircraft meant for those planned operations would either need to get cancelled, move to expand the other JQ operations (which are in a growth hold) or go to QF mainlane to replace older 737s.

11 on 17/11/15 by dommey

I don't know why Airbus or Boeing aren't going to focus on faster planes rather than just building bigger planes

1 on 17/11/15 by Hugo

You mean supersonic or faster subsonic?

In both cases, the answer is that physics is a bastard.

2 on 17/11/15 by Jedinak K

When an object approaches Mach speed in a medium of air particles (or any particles), the coefficient of drag increases exponentially. Hence fuel burn and required thrust levels becomes unsustainable over long flights. Not to mention the high speeds puts tremendous pressure on the structure of the aircraft. 

3 on 19/11/15 by Doubleplatinum

Clearly not a student of aerodynamics!

12 on 17/11/15 by drgmarshall

I for one would love this. I hate wasting time on stop overs. I'd do Perth - London or Sydney - New York at the drop of a hat with non-stop flights.  Already doing Sydney-Dallas 4 times a year so another 3-4 hours is a no-brainer. Bringit on.

13 on 17/11/15 by Jedinak K

With all these long-haul flights announced (SIN-NWK) and possible SYD-NY, what happens when the fuel prices aren't as generous as they are now? Would those flights still be viable? A lot can change within three years, especially seeing as the fuel price was about 30-40 cents more expensive last year. I doubt the Saudis would continue to sell their subsidized fuel at their current price as their treasury is losing a lot of money. 

1 on 17/11/15 by riley

Lukcy the 777X doesn't take unleaded! ;)

The reason fuel prices were cited as the catalyst for cancelling routes and loss of profits is because it's a nice excuse out of the boards control. (Despite their internal treasury having complex metrics for how they undertake their hedging and procurement of fuel.) The truth be known, an A346 as was used by SQ was outdated and thristy. The most modern composite material jets such as the dreamliners offer a advantage in efficiency to the ealry adopters, relative to the market, and will provide the norm for years to come. It's not unitl such time that more efficient technology becomes available and renders the dreamliner / 777x and the like redundant or inefficient, that factors such as fuel price become an issue. 

Airlines want you to believe fuel prices are detrimental to their service as it's something that resonates strongly with the public, but a very effective hedge strategy can create a strong financial tail wind for one airline over it's rivals. Falling fuel prices can actually have a negative effect on airlines who have bought at the wrong price and are not in a position to adjust with agility. 

1 on 17/11/15 by Jedinak K

Yes, I have heard that fuel price hedging does play a big role in how much the airline saves in fuel costs. But I don't understand it quite well. If airlines hedge at a certain price, and the actual fuel price is above the suggested price, does the airline have to pay the outstanding balance? What happens if it hedges at a price and the actual fuel price is below? 

1 on 17/11/15 by riley

I'm no expert on the matter but I assume it would be a complex commercial arrangement involving securing fuel at a price, allocating capital and securing currency /forex. The airline having to balance the above with their needs and available resources.

2 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

My understanding of fuel hedging is that the airline basicly "prepays" a set % of fuel at a set price. If the on day price is higher when they come to use that fuel, they save.

2 on 17/11/15 by Jimmy

(Minor Nitpick, hope you don't mind), SQ used an A340-500 on their Singapore to USA flights, so an A345, not an A346. 

14 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

If QF go for this... I'd be impressed. It would seem the A380 was a huge blunder for QF.

The 787-9 order is a larger number of smaller jets. I think QF are evolving in that direction... less hubbing, more point-to-point services. For people who hate having to stop over at LAX, this is certainly a good thing.

I have to wonder though... does this mean the death of Qantas First? Or perhaps its proliferation? Ultra-longhaul flights generate a demand for First Class in and of themselves. Will we start seeing First Class being offered on a wider variety of aircraft? If there are going to be direct SYD-JFK flights there's be guaranteed First demand, ditto for PER - LHR flights. I could see Perth getting a Qantas First lounge before Brisbane.

In addition... Emirates. The Emirates alliance is based on using DXB as a hub. If QF start having jets based out of PER that do not need to use a hub to get to Europe, they're effectively cutting Dubai out of the QF network.

Is QF trying to encourage domestic connections onto ULH flights, thus keeping all passengers on their metal? Its an interesting possibility, but to see it happen I think we're going to need Sydney airport to get an integrated Domestic/International Qantas operation fast (I think Perth will already have such an operation).


1 on 17/11/15 by bsbtraveller

MEL has that, forget about SYD

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

MEL has integrated domestic/international? I didn't know that. Thanks for the clarification. That said, geographically speaking I can't see QF using MEL as a base for ULH flights (apart from a DFW flight)... geographically speaking, it makes more sense for ULH flights to Europe to depart from Perth, and ULH flights to NYC to depart from Sydney.

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

It depends what you mean by "integrated".

2 on 17/11/15 by Fonga

Perth might have an integrated domestic and international terminal in 15 years time, but if the build of the new Virgin terminal is any guide they'll need it.


Perth to London direct would be a very attractive option, but I don't see it supplanting Dubai. That hub has given Qantas enormous reach through the Emirates network. I know many don't like it and pine for Singapore, but it is the best business decision Qantas has ever made. We aren't all headed to LHR. Those days are over. However as an option on a smaller aircraft such as a 787, it would definitely find a market niche. Perth to Dubai even more so, for the same reasons stated above.

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

Great point, and I absolutely agree that partnering with Emirates was a very good choice. Not everyone on QF's services to Dubai is going to LHR, so Emirates is fantastic for extending the European network.

But if LHR is being oversupplied, why is QF still sending two A380s a day there? Surely the route has to be more than viable for QF (perhaps significantly due to Emirates feed).

I agree with your point about a 787 and Perth-Dubai. QF could easily get themselves 787-10s (I'd bet they'll be selected as the A330 replacement) and do a Perth-Dubai-another European destination service.

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

If QF were to get a 787/A330 sized 3rd aircraft daily into DXB, and it moved on to non UK EU port, it would likely be to open a 5th port in Germany that EK can't operate to.

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

Frankfurt? Or does that already have enough EK services for EK's liking?

QF used to fly to Frankfurt and I'm sure they'd like to return. If they were to be "Emirates backdoor" well that may be mutually beneficial.

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

EK is allowed to operate to 4 ports in Germany. They have 4. They want more, but can't open a 5th without closing another.

QF however, can fly to Germany with up to 25 flights/week.

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

Ahhh, got it. Maybe QF takes over EK's Frankfurt service? Not sure if EK would let that happen though since Frankfurt would be a very high-yielding market I think given all the business travel.

Maybe QF could return to Rome? I don't think Italy would be as high-yielding, so a 787-10 via DXB would be economically pretty reasonable.

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

QF [Australian flagged carriers] would be allowed 7 flights/week to Italy.

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

Okay. Well that could at least in theory make sense as a daily route when QF gets the new jets.

2 on 17/11/15 by Christopher

How do find that kind of info out?

1 on 17/11/15 by Himeno

Australian air service agreements.

Current available capacity (that permitted by agreement less what has been assigned to Australian international airlines by IASC) and links to the active air service agreement treaties are available in the aviation section of the Australian Goverment Department of Infrastructure website.

There is currently a request from QF to IASC submitted Nov 6 asking for 3 more flights/week to HKG. 25 are currently in use, 45 are available.

1 on 18/11/15 by Christopher


15 on 17/11/15 by spudseamus

I presume that's why a lot of people like Royal Bruhni to Lhr  with 3 -7 hour flights 

16 on 17/11/15 by Charles

The key thing all businesses are looking for is Flexibility, and the 777 and Boeing lineup provides that to Qantas.


The Hub and Spoke days of Airline flight are becoming less and less, some could argue Emirates is probably one of the few airlines still in that space, hence their enormous fleet of A380 and 777 metal.

The fact is for Qantas, boeing provides a very interesting business case:

737 - The domestic workhorse and short international flights (Fiji, NZ etc..)

787 - Medium to long haul, so coast to coast domestic, Asia ports open up and point to point USA destinations and south America.

777 - Long Haul which opens up all point to point options for USA, and with the new Variants replace 747 and A380 whilst being more economical for the higher traffic long haul routes (L.A. Dubai etc..)

And the big plus for Qantas, it's easy to train your pilots and have there rating changed to different Boeing Metal as the fligth conrols etc.. are being standardised. Making it easier to adapt your crew requirements as demands change and the ability to adapt your fleet to new markets.

Qantas could potentially be on the path to an all Boeing fleet in the next 15-20 years unless Airbus does something special with the A350 line-up for Qantas.

Intersting times ahead, but I think a more competitve Kangaroo as well.

1 on 17/11/15 by StudiodeKadent

Great post. I agree hub-and-spoke is on the way down, but I don't think its eternally doomed or anything. It depends on the nation's size, number of internationally significant cities, and how distributed those cities are from each other.

Qantas is a multi-hub airline by necessity. Whilst there are two primary hubs (SYD and MEL) there are two secondary hubs (BNE and PER) and also lots of international lounges etc.

The big name American carriers (the big 3) with large international presences are also multi-hub by necessity.

But single hub carriers obviously are important... Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Cathay, Singapore... Basically, if you have a slot-constrained airport which is also at an internationally significant city, and its by far the most significant city in that country, the airline based there will probably skew towards VLAs, running all of its First Class services from there, etc. These carriers often provide the cutting edge of luxury... its easier to do when you only need one First Class lounge.

But yeah... I basically think you're right about the fleet's future. 737 for the Domestic workhorse, also Trans-tasman (from SYD/MEL/BNE) and South Pacific Islands (from SYD/MEL/BNE) when widebodies aren't used.

787-9 for smaller flights to the US West Coast, also to long/thin routes generally. 787-10 for transcon widebody and Asian flights.

777-9 will be the new flagship for the higher-volume trunk routes. 777-8 for ultra longhauls.

Overall, there will be a lot more point-to-point with that fleet. Less hubbing. The A380 isn't the kind of craft that QF need (its a great craft to fly in, I agree, its just not what QF were in need of) and I think that an all-Boeing fleet with the above models makes sense for QF.

17 on 18/11/15 by Joe

Oh God....not a 777 on a ULH route. Those things are loud enough as it is. Im hoping by the time this ac is delivered it will have airbus noise quality. Eveyone argues about the beans of operating this ac but from a pax perspective give me an A380 anyday.

18 on 18/11/15 by Mark_S

Sound exciting, but a shower would be niice halfway

19 on 18/11/15 by Herman

Bravo for QF...  That is the right plane for these LR flights. I believe it will be adapted with interiors proper for a LR flight.. First, Business and Premium Eco... I don`t think that economy would be a good fit on those LR flights... well.. if I did 16 on the horrible UA EWR-HKG... in Economy yes in Y...CX and business was full and I needed to be in HKG...what would be 3 more hours with the fantastic service of QF in Y and J? Great aI thinkg it would be outstanding on 77X

20 on 18/11/15 by anthony watts

;I just hope that Boeing can reproduced the quiteness of the 787 and match that of the 380 in any ULD777 variant. at present they are just too bloody noisy.  aside from that i would be overjoyed at a non stop Australia - NY.  I also keep hoping that they extend Syd-Hon to YYZ (Toronto)  three times a week (I think the metal works:-)  that would suit me!!

21 on 20/11/15 by Aubz11

Having just flown to NY from MEL yesterday I would definitely consider flying non stop from SYD. Changing aircraft at LAX was a joke!! The transit time between arriving and departing was about 90min. You'd think that would be sufficient time but nope. Waiting in line for immigration then getting your luggage to rechecking your luggage then waiting in line again to go through the security check. 90min waisted and not even a chance to go to the toilet. Sure it was a chance to move around unlike in an aircraft but factor in that 90min into a 4hr flight from LAX to JFK and your only onboard for another 2.5hrs. I'd fly non stop in a heartbeat to avoid LAX!! 

22 on 21/11/15 by FlyGuy

I think it could be refered to as "Opera House to Broadway"? But Hudson to Harbour is good too.


Related News Items


Australian business traveller newsletter

Get Updates as they happen, tailored to your preferences, right in your inbox


What topics interest you?