Making the dream in Dreamliner a reality.

The dream is nearing reality for one of the most isolated cities in the world as the centre for future ultra long-haul passenger services to London. But, a commercial impasse could derail said plans.

Qantas is working closely with Perth Airport and the State Government to finalise plans for what will be one of the longest commercial flights in the world.

But, a negligible 30 million dollar bill to upgrade existing infrastructure, that is, the Qantas terminal on the other side of the consolidated airport precinct could spell the end of making Perth the centre of attention when travelling to and from this beautiful country.

The problem is, no one currently wants to foot the bill. The arguments are centred around these three stakeholders, which two of them have sound reasoning for.

Wait, wait, wait — why does an upgrade need to be made?

The service will rely heavily on interstate connections to make it work. Currently, Qantas’ group airlines’ domestic and intrastate services operate out of Terminals 3 and 4, which is on the other side of the now consolidated airport precinct.

Qantas’ group airlines’ domestic and intrastate services operate out of Terminals 3 and 4 (left). Image: Perth Airport.

For passengers to connect from domestic to international services and vice versa, a shuttle bus service runs between the terminals, which is a major deterrent for business clientele to use, as well as those seeking convenience and a non-stop or one-stop option to the UK and Europe.

Perth is connected by air to all the major mainland capital cities and almost all regional centres, thus opening up a one-stop option for many towns.

The most convenient way in all parties’ opinion, is to upgrade the existing infrastructure to an international standard, which involves fitting the terminals out with essential border protection and customs facilities as well as a duty-free store.

Qantas’ terminal at Perth Airport. Image: Woods Bagot.

Logistically, the 17 hour flight can only be achieved from Perth, as the Dreamliner’s flight range dictates. And, from a demographic point of view, Perth possesses the largest UK population out of all the major capital cities, with 11.3% of the total ethnic population being from merry-old England.

What are the arguments?

In terms of Qantas, they play the deciding factor as to whether they indeed launch this service or not. CEO Alan Joyce stated to media that the airline’s firm order for eight Boeing 787’s will,

“…open a range of new routes that we would never have considered before, like Sydney to Chicago, Melbourne to Dallas, Perth to London”.

As they have the plane, passengers and staff to do so, they ultimately decide the fate of this proposed (and hinted) service.

Qantas’ only regular international service is to Singapore, running one to two times a day, and a seasonal Auckland service that runs in the summer, further expanding the Western Australian tourism market.

A hop, skip and a jump for Dubai if this service is launched. Image: Luke McConville.

Qantas have also stated that they will indeed move to the consolidated airport precinct in the next five to ten years, but this will be too late for a decision to be made as the first aircraft will arrive in Australia by late 2017, with this proposed service being launched soon after, possibly in early-2018.

In these circumstances, it seems logical that Qantas does not foot the bill for an investment that will wither away at a fling of a bulldozer in a decade’s time.

The same testament is shared by Perth Airport, whom, as part of their Master Plan, have visioned a consolidated terminal precinct in order to provide a heightened accessibility to air services, as the gateway to Western Australia.

Perth Airport have already invested heavily in this project, which will inevitably continue into the future, whereby changing the face of the airfield as we know it.

Unbeknown to them at the time, Perth Airport have assisted a little in helping this service lift off (and land safely) *pun intended.

A $36 million project to upgrade the runway infrastructure to a Category III level will ultimately remove the need for diversions, primarily due to fog, which is a rare occurrence in Perth. The next suitable port of call with international facilities is Adelaide, which will stretch to the limits, the aircraft’s capabilities.

Perth Airport has already dug itself out of a slow, debilitating passenger service and infrastructure pit, and has consistently stated the need for a consolidated terminal precinct, spending approximately a billion dollars on improving the passenger experience. This is reason enough that they should not foot the bill either.

Virgin Australia: “Qantas, eat your heart out”. Image: Perth Airport.

This leaves the State Government, and together with Tourism WA, both have always been for the service to be launched. They’ve actually been the party that has vouched for the service the most. But, they don’t seem to have an excuse for not funding this infrastructure upgrade.

Well, if you want something, do something about it. At least that’s what I’ve always been told. People should be experiencing Extraordinary Western Australia and seeing #JustAnotherDayInWA, instead of being restricted by the government’s contradicting actions.

The impasse could end with the funding coming from the State Government, but it seems they too, have been pulled down by the inefficient buzz, that is, the nature of the upgrade(s), which Perth Airport has stated.

But, whatever you do, don’t let Brisbane win this time around.

What happens next?

Well, Qantas is tipped to announce the first international route for its new aircraft, which will be an existing one, in early-2017, with the announcement of the first of many ultra-long haul routes to follow soon after.

In the case that Perth does not receive this service in 2018, it will inevitably occur. At the moment, it is rather a case of bad timing for the airport and government bodies.

Will we see this at Perth Airport? Yes, but maybe not right this instant. Image: Qantas.

See you on the other side of this disagreement. The good end of course.