Qantas Hasn’t Given up on the Longest Flight in the World Just yet

"When we are comfortable in doing it and have the financial strength to do it, we will be doing it,” Qantas' CEO said.

Qantas airplans
Photo: James D. Morgan/Contributor/Getty Images

Before COVID-19 swept the globe and disrupted flight schedules everywhere, Qantas was working on plans for the world’s longest flight — and the idea hasn't gone anywhere.

“I think the business case for doing it is very strong,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said on a tourism industry webcast, according to Reuters. “The aircraft are not going anywhere … When we are comfortable in doing it and have the financial strength to do it, we will be doing it.”

The flight, from London to Sydney, is part of the carrier’s “Project Sunrise” program, which is testing the viability of the ultra-long-haul flight as well as the effects of that much time in the air on the human body. The test flight that took place in November clocked in at just over 19 hours and included onboard stretching.

Qantas also tested a 19 hour and 16-minute flight from New York to Sydney.

Before the coronavirus hit, the airline planned to order up to 12 Airbus A350-1000 planes with the intention of flying both ultra-long-haul routes by 2023.

The airline, named the safest airline in the world for 2020, was forced to ground hundreds of planes and all international commercial flying, the airline is slowly bringing some services back.

Qantas and its other airline, Jetstar, will start increasing domestic and regional flying in June and July, according to the carrier, with routes including intra-state flights for Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia. And if restrictions on state borders ease, Qantas said it could increase to up to 40 percent of pre-COVID-19 domestic capacity by the end of July.

Australia has recorded just over 7,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Last month, the country talked about opening up a “travel bubble” with neighboring New Zealand.

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