Qantas launches first direct flight from Australia to London

Qantas’ 787 Dreamliner takes off on its inaugural flight from Perth to London. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2018

Qantas launches first direct flight from Australia to London

MELBOURNE: Australia’s first direct flight to Britain took off on Sunday from the western city of Perth, cutting flying time roughly three hours by skipping stopovers in Singapore or the Middle East, Qantas officials said.
The 17-hour flight, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, will touch down in London at 5.05 a.m., having covered a distance of more than 9,000 miles (14,484 km).
It is the world’s second-longest flight after a Qatar Airways service between Doha and Auckland that covers 9,028 miles (14,529 km), or just 19 miles (31 km) more than the stretch from Perth to London.
The flight marked a “historic day for aviation,” said airline Chief Executive Alan Joyce.
“From today it will be the first link between Australia and Europe that has ever occurred non-stop in aviation,” he told reporters at a launch event. “We are so excited.”
About 730,000 British tourists visit Australia every year and the new service could boost interest in the state of Western Australia, often overlooked in favor of the country’s east coast, said Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo.
“There will be more opportunity than ever before for us to continue to showcase and highlight all the very best parts of Australia, including some of the most magnificent and iconic parts of Western Australia,” he said.
The service was a “game-changer,” said Mena Rawlings, Britain’s high commissioner to Australia.
“To have the opportunity to get on a plane at Heathrow and step out in Perth is just phenomenally exciting and I’m sure we are going to see lots and lots of people taking advantage of that.”
It is also set to shorten journeys from London to Sydney or Melbourne, compared with flying via Dubai.
Before the new service, the longest flight to Britain was a journey of 7,275 miles (11,708 km) between Heathrow and Jakarta, operated by Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier.
Qantas plans to introduce non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to Britain in the next few years.


Dubai counts on pent-up demand for tourism return

Updated 11 July 2020

Dubai counts on pent-up demand for tourism return

DUBAI: After a painful four-month tourism shutdown that ended this week, Dubai is betting pent-up demand will see the industry quickly bounce back, billing itself as a safe destination with the resources to ward off coronavirus.

The emirate, which had more than 16.7 million visitors last year, opened its doors to tourists despite global travel restrictions and the onset of the scorching Gulf summer in the hopes the sector will reboot before high season begins in the last quarter of 2020.

Embarking from Emirates flights, where cabin crew work in gowns and face shields, the first visitors arrived on Tuesday to be greeted by temperature checks and nasal swabs, in a city better known for skyscrapers, luxury resorts and over-the-top attractions.

Tourism chief Helal Al-Marri said that people may still be reluctant to travel right now, but that data shows they are already looking at destinations and preparing to come out of their shells.

“When you look at the indicators, and who is trying to buy travel, 10 weeks ago, six weeks ago and today look extremely different,” he said in an interview.

“People were worried (but) people today are really searching heavily for their next holiday and that is a very positive sign and I see a very strong comeback.”

The crisis crushed Dubai’s goal to push arrivals to 20 million this year and forced flag carrier Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, to cut its sprawling network and lay off an undisclosed number of staff.

But Al-Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said that unlike the gloom after the 2008 global financial crisis, the downturn is a one-off “shock event.”

“Once we do get to the other side, as we start to talk about next year and later on, we see very much a quick uptick. Because once things normalize, people will go back to travel again,” he said.

The reopening comes as the UAE battles stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that have climbed to more than 53,500 with 328 deaths.

And as swathes of the world emerge from lockdown, for many travelers their holiday wish lists have shifted from free breakfasts and room upgrades to more pressing issues like hotel sanitation and hospital capacity.

With its advanced medical facilities and infrastructure, Dubai is betting it will be an attractive option for tourists.

“The first thing I’m thinking is — how is the health-care system, do they have it under control? Do I trust the government there?” Al-Marri said. “Yes they expect the airline to have precautionary measures, they expect it at the airport. But are they going to a city where everything from the taxi, to the restaurant, to the mall, to the beach has these measures in place?”

Tourists arriving in Dubai are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

While social distancing and face masks are widely enforced, many restaurants and attractions have reopened with business as usual, even if wait staff wear protective gear and menus have been replaced with QR codes.

“When it comes to Dubai, I think it’s really great to see the fun returning to the city. As you’ve seen, everything’s opened up,” Al-Marri said.