Skift Take

The Perth to Paris route marks the latest ultra-long haul service from Qantas. Even longer nonstop links from Sydney to New York and London are due to follow.

Do you call July midsummer or mid-winter? It all depends which side of a major new air route you’re on.  Come July 12, one of the year’s most hotly anticipated new flights will take to the skies for the first time.

Qantas’ nonstop link from Perth in Western Australia to Paris will launch just ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics. However, with flight times of up to 17 hours and 20 minutes, this is a marathon rather than a sprint. 

Services operate four-times weekly before dropping down to thrice weekly in the second week of August. 

While notable, the new route isn’t entirely without precedent. It follows a similar path to Qantas’ existing ultra-long-haul services from Perth to both London and Rome. It is operated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, an aircraft designed for particularly long journeys. 

A map showing Qantas' Perth to Europe flights
Paris will soon join London and Rome as nonstop flights from Perth. Graphic: Great Circle Map

An Appetite for Ultra-Long Haul

Qantas has previously reported high occupancy and passenger satisfaction on its Perth-London route. The airline said on average, around nine in every ten seats were occupied, suggesting many long-haul travelers are happy to strap in for 17+ hours to avoid layovers. 

Visitors keen to maximize their time in Europe can opt for Qantas’ ‘Circle Fare’. This allows travelers to return from any of the three European cities served nonstop by the Australian airline. 

The success of nonstop European flights from Perth sets the stage for Project Sunrise. This is the codename for new routes that will fly even further than Perth to Europe. Based on current schedules, Qantas will connect Sydney and Melbourne to both London and New York starting in 2026. 

If realized, they will become the world’s longest nonstop passenger flights. So ambitious is the mission, that Qantas is working with Airbus for a specially optimized version of the A350-1000 aircraft to help make the route feasible. The airline has confirmed the plane will feature a bespoke ‘wellness zone’ to help passengers say healthy in the air.

Qantas to Paris isn’t the only notable new route taking flight this summer. Here are four others that should be on your radar:

American Airlines: New York JFK to Tokyo Haneda

On June 28, American Airlines completed its ‘re-inaugural flight’ between New York JFK and Tokyo Haneda. The carrier resumed the route to Tokyo’s downtown airport after an absence of 11 years. It makes the carrier the only U.S. airline to fly between the two cities.

The 6,772-mile journey comes just in time for the summer rush and will leverage American’s long-standing joint-venture agreement with Japan Airlines. The partnership is likely to be important given the dominance of Japanese carriers on the route, with All Nippon Airways also flying two daily services.

American’s new daily connection uses a Boeing 777-200ER, complementing JAL’s twice-daily flights between the airports. Notably, this isn’t AA’s most premium-heavy aircraft, typically featuring just 37 business and 24 premium economy seats.

The new link comes as parts of Japan struggle to manage a wave of inbound tourists. In an interview with Skift earlier this month, Eri Hirose, a senior director at the Japan National Tourism Office, described new measures to protect the Mount Fuji from congestion and overcrowding.

Austrian Airlines: Vienna to Boston 

July 1 marked Austrian Airlines’ inaugural service connecting Vienna and Boston. The European airline is looking to take advantage of business, academic, and regular tourism traffic alike. The start of the July 4 weekend was an opportune time to kick off flights, with US airlines reporting the busiest holiday period in years.

Austrian is operating the route six-times weekly using its aging yet reliable Boeing 767s. These carry 24 in business, 30 in premium, and 157 in economy. As a member of the Lufthansa Group, Austrian Airlines can also tap into passengers beyond its Vienna hub. This will soon include ITA Airways, following EU regulatory approval which was granted last week.

Norbert Kettner, Managing Director of the Vienna Tourist Board, pointed to the U.S. as being a key tourism market, helping the Austrian capital reach its pre-pandemic international figures in 2023. The addition of Boston means Austrian now flies to six US destinations. 

Porter Airlines: Montreal to the U.S. West Coast

Paris isn’t the only Francophone city enjoying new air routes this summer. Montreal has already welcomed a slew of new connections to the U.S. West Coast. Porter Airlines kicked off the party on June 27, connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, operating three-times and four-times weekly respectively. These routes are summer seasonal, and due to end in late October. 

Notably, Porter is flying its Embraer E195-E2s on the routes. While this is a relatively long flight for a regional jet, it is still comfortably within the E2’s maximum range. The carrier is also hoping to leverage its new commercial partnerships with Alaska Airlines to connect passengers up and down the West Coast, adding one-stop traffic to bolster overall profitability. 

Not to be left out, United Airlines launched nonstop flights between San Francisco and Montreal on July 1. The daily service runs year-round. The carrier’s joint venture with Air Canada has allowed United to become a trans-border powerhouse in recent years, comfortably making it the largest airline in the market by number of routes and providing plenty of connecting opportunities for passengers. 

The developments come just a few weeks after Canada’s Competition Bureau announced it is preparing to launch a major review of the country’s airline sector.

Qatar Airways: Further European Expansion

Qatar Airways is kicking off three new services this summer, with two of these technically route resumptions. On July 1, the Doha-based airline added Hamburg as its fifth destination in Germany. The four-times weekly operation is served by the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner – the smallest widebody aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet.

Last month, Lisbon and Venice returned to the airline’s network. The Portuguese capital has been absent from the Doha departure board since the pandemic, but with travel surging past 2019 numbers, Lisbon now has a year-round service operating six-times weekly in the summer peak and five-times weekly for the rest of the year. Venice meanwhile has returned for its seasonal service with daily flights. Both routes are typically served by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

In line with its Middle Eastern competitors such as Emirates and Etihad, Qatar Airways can make more niche routes work by funneling passengers from South Asia, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific through its Doha mega-hub. This strategy sees it reach 50 destinations in Europe alone – even higher than Dubai-based Emirates.

Earlier this week, Qatar Airways announced a range of new initiatives to bolster the country’s stopover program. The new packages will remove the need for separate reservations and enable travelers in the region to streamline their travel plans through an improved booking process that incorporates flight and hotel bookings in one itinerary.

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Tags: airlines, american airlines, australia, austrian airlines, long-haul flights, porter airlines, project sunrise, qantas airways, qatar airways, tokyo, tourism, Travel Trends, united airlines

Photo credit: A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Vincenzo Pace / Vincenzo Pace

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