Qantas Airways will begin testing the longest direct flights in the world this Friday, as the Australian airline aims to stretch the boundaries of technological innovation in a bid to woo premium passengers from rival carriers.

The flights will mark the first time a commercial airline has flown direct from New York to Sydney — a distance of more than 16,000km — and only the second time it has been done between London and Sydney, a route of more than 17,000km that is expected to take up to 20 hours...

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