Shortest Air Route between London and Sydney, 1955 – 2020

Shortest Air Route between London and Sydney, 1955 – 2020

Since the inauguration of the first commercial regular long-distance air services in the 1950s, the relative distance between London and Sydney (commonly labeled as the “kangaroo route”) has been substantially reduced. When the route was serviced by a propeller plane (Super Constellation), the segment took two and a half days and 7 stops to be serviced (with an overnight stay in Cairo and Singapore). The introduction of the 747 in the 1970s reduced this route to 26 hours and two stops. A more fuel-efficient and longer-range 747-400 improved the route by 3 hours because only one stop was then required. In 2006, for the first time, a direct flight became a possibility with a new generation of long-range aircrafts such as the 777-200LR. However, this route is at the extreme limit of serviceability as dominant winds would only make possible an east-west non-stop full load leg. Thus a “direct” flight between London and Sydney still involves a technical refueling stop in Dubai (Emirates) or Singapore (Qantas). With the introduction of the Dreamliner (B787-9) in 2014, a full direct flight became possible with no technical stop, taking just over 19 hours. Considering technical limitations linked with the ratio speed/fuel consumption, it is unlikely that the travel time between London and Sydney will become lower than 19.5 hours of a direct flight.