In 2015 Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the route was the "holy grail" for the airline, with many Qantas passengers already having NY as their final destination on flights. Capacity increased 1 percent year over year, and traffic increased 2 percent.
A non-stop Sydney-London route that is three hours shorter than flights involving stops would allow Qantas to charge a premium and differentiate its product from the around two dozen other airlines plying the so-called Kangaroo route with stop-offs in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.
The buybacks underscore the success of Irish-born Joyce's efforts to turn around the company through a series of cost-saving measures in the face of intense competition from rivals such as Emirates, which is now a partner.
While earnings from its worldwide business have dropped, its local market handed it a strong profit that beat estimates of analysts.
Underlying profit before tax was A$1.4 billion versus A$1.5 billion in the prior year.
Analysts were expecting earnings to be $1.39 billion.
The company declared a final dividend of 7 Australian cents per share, to be paid on October 13 with a record date of September 11.
Qantas shares were up the most in almost two months on Friday in Sydney. The operating profit margin at the worldwide unit fell 3.2 percentage points to 5.7 percent, but Qantas said the pace of capacity growth by competitors has slowed.
"We do believe aircraft technology is going to be our friend into the future", Joyce told reporters at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Cancun, Mexico in early June.
"Combined, Qantas and Jetstar now have around 90 percent of the domestic profit pool and a widening margin advantage over their competitors", Joyce added. And together with low-priced unit Jetstar, Qantas said it's taking about 90 percent of the Australian profit pool.
"Qantas will challenge both Airbus and Boeing to deliver an aircraft capable of regularly flying direct services like Sydney to London, Brisbane to Paris, Melbourne to NY non-stop with a full payload by 2022", he said. It was down 8.6 percent from the record level set in the 2016 fiscal year. In March, Qantas will begin flying from Perth, Australia to London, the first regularly scheduled nonstop flight between Australia and the UK.
The 777-8X or A350-900ULR would sit alongside the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 in Qantas's long-haul fleet - with Airbus A330s used internationally mainly on medium-haul services to Asia - as the evergreen 747-400/400ERs are withdrawn.
Auckland is about two hours flight time closer to the Big Apple than any eastern Australian city.
Qantas further revealed that it is "waiting for an improved technology that will allow fast Wi-Fi for our worldwide routes".
According to the report, the Australian airline is looking for the manufacture of new planes capable of making the intercontinental journey from the east coast capitals without a stopover, with a plan to launch the new flights by 2022 latest.