Kangaroo Route

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The Kangaroo Route refers to air routes flown between Australia and the United Kingdom via the Eastern Hemisphere.[1] The term is trademarked and traditionally used by Qantas,[2] although it is used in the media and by airline competitors.[citation needed]

By 2003 over 20 airlines operated the route.[3] Two airlines offer through flights (i.e. not requiring passengers to change plane en route) on the Kangaroo Route: British Airways and Qantas.

Qantas commenced operating non-stop flights from Perth to London with Boeing 787s on 25 March 2018.[4][5]

On 13 December 2019, Qantas announced that they have preferred Airbus A350-1000 as the aircraft for the project. The aircraft will have an additional fuel tank and slightly increased MTOW to deliver the performance required on the Project Sunrise routes. No orders have been placed but Qantas are working with Airbus to order up to 12 aircraft. Final decision to be made on March 2020.[6]


In 1935 Qantas started flying passengers to Singapore in a De Havilland 86 to connect with London-bound Imperial Airways. London to Brisbane service commenced on 13 April 1935. Imperial Airways and Qantas Empire Airways opened the 12,754-mile (20,526 km) London to Brisbane route for passengers for a single fare £195 (equivalent to $16,200 in 2010). There were no through bookings on the first service because of heavy sector bookings, but there were two through passengers on the next flight that left London on 20 April. The route opened for passengers from Brisbane to London on 17 April; flights were weekly and the journey time was 12½ days including the rail trip between Paris and Brindisi.[7][8]

BOAC/Qantas landplane flights from Hurn Airport in southern England to Sydney began in May 1945, initially via Learmonth; after an Avro Lancastrian ditched in the Indian Ocean crossing in 1946, the route shifted back to Singapore. The ABC Guide for September 1947 shows six flights a week from Sydney to England: three Lancastrians that took 77 hr 30 min to Heathrow and three flying boats that took 168 hr 55 min to Poole.

Multiple stops[edit]

Qantas first flew the Kangaroo Route on 1 December 1947. A Lockheed Constellation carried 29 passengers and 11 crew from Sydney to London with stops in Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo, and Tripoli (passengers stayed overnight in Singapore and Cairo). A return fare was £585 (equivalent to $34,000 in 2010), equivalent to 130 weeks average pay.[9] In the 1950s some Qantas flights made other stops, including Frankfurt, Zürich, Rome, Belgrade, Athens, Beirut, Tehran, Bombay, and Colombo.[citation needed] In May 1958 the Kangaroo Route had 11 westward flights a week: four Qantas Super Constellations, four BOAC Britannias, and one Air India Super Constellation from Sydney to London, one KLM Super Constellation Sydney to Amsterdam, and one TAI DC-6B Auckland to Paris. In February 1959 Qantas' fastest Super Constellation took 63 hr 45 min Sydney to Heathrow and BOAC's Britannia took 49 hr 25 min. Jet flights (Qantas 707) started in 1959; in April 1960 the fastest trip from Sydney to London was 34 hr 30 min with eight stops.

In June 1969 Qantas had 11 Kangaroo Route flights a week from Sydney to London, taking 29–32 hours with 5–6 stops each; BOAC's 9 flights (or possibly 7) had 5–7 stops.

From January 1958 Qantas had a round-the-world network, flying Australia to Europe westward on the Kangaroo Route and eastward on the Southern Cross Route (via the Pacific Ocean).[1] In 1964 Qantas started a third route to London via Tahiti, Mexico, and the Caribbean, called the Fiesta Route. Qantas dropped its Southern Cross Route and Fiesta Route in 1974–75.

One stop flights[edit]

In 1971 Qantas added Boeing 747s, reducing the travel time and number of stops (in the late 1970s flights typically stopped at Singapore and Bahrain). Fares fell, opening air travel to more people with more competition. In April 1974 Qantas commenced operating a one stop service from Perth to London with only one stop in Bombay with Boeing 707s.[10]

In 1989 Qantas set a world distance record for commercial jets when Boeing 747–400, City of Canberra (VH-OJA), flew non stop London to Sydney in just over 20 hours (without passengers or cargo).[11]

By 2014 around 20 airlines operated services between the United Kingdom and Australia including Air China, Air India, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

In June 2007 Gulf Air ceased operation between Sydney and Bahrain via Singapore.

Until early 2012 Air Mauritius flew Airbus A340s to Sydney and Melbourne via Mauritius, although it still operates a service from Perth.

As part of a new arrangement with Emirates, from 2013 all Qantas through services to the United Kingdom stopped in Dubai, and their "Asian services were no longer be a subsidiary of the 'Kangaroo Route'".[12] A hub in the middle of a route is more effective than a hub at either end as connecting traffic more easily fills the plane.[13] Qantas also announced that its service to Frankfurt via Singapore would end in April 2013, leaving London as its only European destination.[14]

Qantas flights on the traditional Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London revert to a stopover in Singapore instead of Dubai from 25 March 2018. Five years after the change to fly through Dubai, Qantas uses the Airbus A380 on its new flagship route QF1/2, between Sydney and London via Singapore.[15]

Non-stop flights[edit]

Non-stop flights from Perth to London commenced in March 2018 with Boeing 787s,[16] with the Kangaroo route becoming a non-stop route for the first time while also connecting Australia and Europe via a non-stop route for the first time. These flights operate out of Perth's Terminal 3 rather than the traditional T1 in order to facilitate seamless transfers from Qantas domestic flights. The non-stop service forms part of Qantas' secondary Kangaroo route QF9/10, between Melbourne and London via Perth. This route also opens up the possibility of further direct flights to Europe from Perth such as Paris and Frankfurt.

On 25 August 2017, Qantas announced "Project Sunrise", aiming to fly non-stop from the East Coast of Australia (including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane) to London, Paris and New York City by 2022 and challenged Boeing and Airbus to create aircraft that can travel to such places without stopping.[17]

Qantas will issue a request for proposal in 2019 for an over 300 seat aircraft in four classes, to be delivered from 2022.[18]

Both Boeing and Airbus submitted proposals in 2019, but Boeing announced some delays in the B777-8 project in August 2019 after Etihad Airways has dropped its orders made in 2013. But Boeing has made it clear that it remains in contention for Project Sunrise.[19]

In 18-20 October 2019, Qantas made a 19-hour test flight QF7879 with a Boeing 787-9 from New York to Sydney.[20] The next month, Qantas operated its first 19-20-hour test flight from London to Sydney.[21]

In literature[edit]

The book Beyond the Blue Horizon by travel correspondent Alexander Frater documents the author's attempt to fly all the sectors on the original 1935 Imperial/Qantas London-Brisbane route in 1984.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Qantas – Our Company – History – Constellations Span the World". Qantas. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  2. ^ "Trade Mark Details for Trade Mark 330928". IP Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  3. ^ "Qantas statement on Virgin Atlantic Airways becoming 21st carrier on the Kangaroo Route" (Press release). Qantas. 28 November 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  4. ^ "London to Perth: Everything you need to know about the first non-stop flights from Britain to Australia". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Lift-off for Qantas non-stop". The West Australian. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Qantas Update on Project Sunrise". Qantas News Room. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Explore our past: 1930 – 1939". British Airways. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Venturing Overseas". Qantas.com.au. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  9. ^ Creedy, Steve (30 November 2007). "Qantas' Kangaroo route 60th birthday". news.com.au. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  10. ^ One stop to London Freight & Container Transportation April 1974 page 3
  11. ^ "Boeing Aircraft Take Qantas Further". Qantas Airways Limited. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  12. ^ "QANTAS and Emirates". QANTAS. Retrieved 9 September 2012. Our Asian services will no longer be a subsidiary of the 'Kangaroo Route', they will be dedicated to connecting Australians with our region, and Asian visitors to Australia.
  13. ^ Schofield, Adrian (27 August 2012). "Competition Heats Up As Carriers Contest Kangaroo Routes". Aviation Week. Retrieved 22 November 2012. Hub logic says you want to be in the middle, offering multiple one-stops
  14. ^ Flynn, David (17 April 2013). "Qantas bids farewell to Frankfurt". Australian Business Traveller. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Qantas A380 Implementation Schedule". Qantas Airways Limited. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  16. ^ Taylor, Ellis (26 March 2019). "Qantas hails successful first year of Perth-London flights". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  17. ^ "New opportunities for direct routes" (PDF). Qantas. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  18. ^ Taylor, Ellis (4 June 2018). "Qantas details considerations for Project Sunrise aircraft". Flightglobal.
  19. ^ KAMINSKI-MORROW, DAVID (15 August 2019). "Boeing aims to remain in Qantas 'Project Sunrise' contest". Flightglobal.
  20. ^ "Qantas 19 hour test flight". 19 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Experimental Qantas ultra-long-haul London to Sydney flight takes off". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 15 November 2019.