Boardroom briefing: world’s longest commercial flight, commodity prices weak and how to get innovative ideas


Qantas has completed the world’s longest commercial flight, many commodity prices below cost of production, and how to foster innovation. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, and the pilots and crew who participated in the first flight of Project Sunrise. Credit: Qantas

In August, we reported on Qantas’ Project Sunrise, a research project that included three non-stop 19-hour flights, two from New York to Sydney and one from London to Sydney.

The first flight, between New York and Sydney, took place over the weekend. With 49 passengers on board, the 16,200 km flight lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes, becoming the world’s longest commercial flight ever.

As the demand for air travel continues to grow, experiments such as Project Sunrise become important to guarantee passengers’ safety and comfort. The International Air Transport Association expects the number of annual passengers to increase from 4.6 billion in 2019 to 8.2 billion by 2037.

‘We know ultra long haul flights pose some extra challenges but that’s been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further,’ said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. ‘The research we’re doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way.’

Commodity prices below cost of production

Global Commodities Index 2002-2019. Source: IMF

‘When you average out 21 major commodities, they’re about as cheap as they ever get relative to their marginal production costs,’ a unnamed CEO, ‘trained in tracking supply and demand’ is quoted as saying an article in

The article suggests Commodity Prices are about 23 per cent below where they were in the depths of the Global Financial Crisis.

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The CEO said that while gold and silver trade roughly 50 per cent above production costs, wheat and cotton trade 30 per cent below their marginal cost to grow.

‘When commodity prices fall below production costs, producers cut supply and draw down excess inventories. Longer-term, producers usually need roughly a 20 per cent margin to continue capital expenditure and production.’

How to foster ‘crazy ideas’ in your organisation

Entrepreneur and physicist Safi Bahcall

With PNG’s business leaders gathering in Port Moresby on 8 November for the country’s inaugural innovation conference, here are some thoughts on innovation from physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall.

Bahcall, author of Loonshot: How to nature crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries, gave an interview to BRINK where he discussed some of the challenges that organisations face when trying get more of what he calls ‘loonshots’—ideas that challenge organisational culture, aim to develop products that seem impossible, or imagine a different future.

‘If you reward rank, you will encourage a political culture: people will shoot down their neighbors’ ideas in order to climb ahead. If you reward results and intelligent risk-taking, on the other hand, you will encourage an innovative culture,’ he says.

‘You need to separate your artists/creators working on the new and your soldiers working on the core.

‘That’s the easy part. The hard part is managing the tension between the two. The failure point in most innovation is almost never in the supply of new ideas; it’s in the transfer to the field … the best companies and leaders focus on managing the transfer.’

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