London to Australia non-stop? Maybe…

It seems that the idea of connecting London to Australia on a non-stop flight might just not be so crazy after all. Thomson Airways, the 3rd largest carrier in Britain by passengers, has suggested that taking passengers to Australia or Hawaii non-stop from London is not actually out of the realm of possibility. But they need more of their newest plane first.

As part of the launch of their 787 service the company had a number of executives on the first flight, traveling between Gatwick and Menorca, Spain. One of those execs mentioned that there are a number of new destinations that the company is looking to serve with the longer range afforded by the Dreamliner; Perth and Hawaii were both mentioned in the bit.

Yes, it is a longshot that these routes actually develop (pun intended) but they are definitely viable with the spec’s the plane offers. Then again, with ~280 seats on board (60 more than United offers) that would be a mighty long, mighty crowded flight.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Seems that LGW-HNL is within the realms of current 777 distance being shorter than ATL-JNB. And LGW-PER would be shorter than EWR-SIN.

    1. The operating costs of the newer planes arguably offer much better economics to justify flying the routes. Usually the planes big enough to make the longer flights are also much bigger in passenger capacity. That often means empty seats which kills the profitability.

  2. They could just invest in some used 777-200LR’s and hit either route with no issue.

  3. Excellent point Seth, looks like you posted that response quicker then I could have pressed submit which validates your point and is probably why they won’t invest in used aircraft.

  4. The concept of thin and long routes, raised as the USP of the 787, raises its ugly head again. Remember the hype aroud the 345 and the 77L connecting any point on earth? ULH rarely works. Nobody wants to pay for it, especially not the people flying Thompson.

    1. Yes, Oliver2002, the ULH debate comes again. But in this case I actually think the Thomson people are more likely to make it work that others. It is not daily service but they can charge a small premium over the discounted coach fares for the non-stop flight. Plus they sell a lot of packages where the margins come in on the hotel, excursion and other bits.

      There may not be 200 people every day – 30 of which will pay J fares – flying between London and Perth or Honolulu but there very well may be 200 a week who want a week-long holiday and don’t need the premium cabin experience.

  5. If they fly the 787 to HNL, that would be one of the nicer planes to fly to Honolulu.

  6. Ouch – that seems like it would be an especially long flight, and not very comfortable. From a quick look at seatguru, it looks like recliners in “premium economy” and regular economy. Of course, it goes back to the discussion on what constitutes “premium economy” from yesterday.

  7. On January 19, 2011, Lufthansa had a one time nonstop flight from
    MUC to HNL with A 340-600. The flight took 14 hours, 48 minutes.

  8. I would have thought Perth is more likely than Hawaii in terms of passenger demand. Remember Thomson is essentially a charter operator for holiday travel, so the planes have limited premium seating – and not very premium at that.

    I don’t think people in the UK would be prepared to consider stopping flights en route to their holidays, but they are quite intrepid as to where they will go. Bangkok is already popular for long haul, as well as some Caribean destinations, so I would imagine it would be possible to develop good Perth business, aided by the strong connections between the UK and Australia.

  9. What would put me off as a passenger would be thoights of 1) being cooped up in a seat for so long and 2) thst each route, at least in one direction has alot of open water before making final land fall. I kinda like a bigger margin on open water flights, psychologically.

  10. Questionable at best…

    But, it would be interesting to see them give it a try.

    Somebody has to push the envelope and figure out the ‘edges’ of the operating costs / benefits of the Dreamliner…

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