On Sunday 20th October 2019 just before 8am, a plane touched down at Sydney airport. Normally this would not be out of the ordinary – but this was a flight with a difference. Flight QF7879 with Australian airline, Qantas, had just completed the world’s longest-ever commercial flight, at 19 hours and 16 minutes, beating the previous record by 900km.
This flight is the first of many in Project Sunrise, Qantas’ plan to operate non-stop super long haul flights with the aim of reducing the amount of time it takes us to travel around the world by cutting out the need for stop-overs. However, could it be that with Qantas’ celebrating their centenary this year, are the record-breaking flights also an effort to boost news coverage in time for the event? We investigate the results of this high-profile project and how it may have affected Qantas’ SEO value.
Qantas SEO results post-flight
Although initiatives like Project Sunrise appear mainly to be for research purposes, they also have an undeniable effect on the profile of a brand and coverage surrounding it. It’s definitely a smart move by Qantas to launch this project just before their centenary year, and interesting to examine any subsequent increases in SEO value for the company.
Looking at the results, we can see that both SEO visibility and brand searches for Qantas reached their peak on 23rd November (Google Trends).
We can however see that visibility had already started to climb before this as Qantas was having some positive ranking improvements (SearchMetrics).
Although it is difficult to directly attribute this to the press coverage, in November the search for: ‘flights from Sydney to London’ saw positive ranking changes. This would indicate that searches around the topic are having a positive effect on Qantas’ SEO, which will come in handy for boosting PR and news coverage of their 2020 centenary. Combined with initiatives like the Qantas centenary sale, it’s evident that the airline is going all-out for the big event.
Potential issues of long haul flights
Although it’s fantastic that we are able to travel so extensively in this day and age, there are drawbacks of our endeavours to fly longer and further. Aside from concerns surrounding the impact of such long flights on our bodies and minds, the main issue here is sustainability – this particular Qantas flight produced the same carbon dioxide emissions as more than 700 barrels of oil.
Although Qantas maintain that their airline carbon offset scheme is world-class and that all carbon emissions for this flight were offset, this particular jet was half-empty to ensure it could be completed using just one tank of fuel, with just 49 people on board. When taking into consideration the fact that this decade needs to be one of drastic environmental action if we are to combat climate change, increasing long haul routes like this risk threatening this effort.
Brands understandably need to make continual efforts to boost their presence and audience awareness; however, we need to recognise that this often comes at a cost – and when it does, is it really worth it?