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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

World's second-longest flight touches down in London from Perth

First direct flight between Australia and Britain launched by Qantas

Qantas launched their first non-stop flights from Perth to London on March 24, 2018. Brent Winstone / EPA
Qantas launched their first non-stop flights from Perth to London on March 24, 2018. Brent Winstone / EPA

If you get fidgety on long flights but have no option but to travel, there is some good news – especially for air travellers between Australia and England.

The first direct flight between Australia and Britain has touched down in London, in what has been described as a "historic day for aviation".

Taking off on Sunday from the western city of Perth, it cut flying time by roughly three hours by skipping stopovers in Singapore or the Middle East, Qantas officials said.

Weary passengers on the 17-hour flight, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, touched down in London at 5.05am this morning, having covered a distance of 14,484 km. Just to put the time into perspective, travellers would have had time to sit through the first seven of the eight Harry Potter movies.

It is the world's second-longest flight after a Qatar Airways service between Doha and Auckland that covers 14,529 km, or just 45 km more than the stretch from Perth to London.

The flight marked a "historic day for aviation", said Qantas 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 favour 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.

Before the new service, the longest flight to Britain was a journey of 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.

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World's longest flights (by time)

Auckland to Doha - 17 hr 40 min

Qatar Airways Flight 921 is the longest commercial journey in the world, flying passengers over 14,529km from New Zealand to Qatar in nearly 18 hours on Boeing 777 planes.

Auckland to Dubai - 17 hr 20 min

Auckland is also the origin of Emirates Airline Flight 449, with Airbus A380 superjumbos travelling nearly 14,200km to Dubai.

Perth to London - 17 hr 20 min

The new Qantas service is the first direct flight from Australia to Britain, connecting Perth and London in just over 17 hours. The 14,484-km route is part of the airline's ambitious plans to connect Europe with airports on Australia's eastern seaboard as new, more efficient aircraft become available.

Los Angeles to Singapore - 17 hr 20 min

United Airlines launched its service connecting Los Angeles airport to Singapore using 787s last year, saying the 14,100km link would be the longest non-stop flight from the United States to anywhere in the world in terms of distance.

Houston to Sydney - 17 hr 30 min

United's 787s also connect Houston in the southern US to Australia, crossing over 13,800km in around 17-and-half hours.

Singapore to New York - 19 hr

The longest flights operating today pale in comparison with Singapore Airlines Flight 22. The carrier flew Airbus A340 airliners from the city-state to New York's Newark airport – a journey of over 15,000km – from 2004 to 2013, when the service was suspended to cut costs. But the airline plans to restart flights on the route, using the ultra-long range version of the Airbus A350.

* with Reuters