Qantas Project Sunrise: submission confirmed

Airbus has confirmed its offering Qantas the A350-1000 as the best all-round solution to the airlines desire to fly non-stop from Sydney to London. The A359 remains an option, but as Airbus stated yesterday, that’s Qantas’ choice in the end.

Boeing has put the 777-8 on hold as its fast becoming obvious the 777-9 will be about a year late. Quite what it will submit is less certain.

The case for the A350-1000ULR is strong. It has the range, the capacity and the economy to provide what Qantas are looking for and is unquestionably the front runner.

The 787-9/10 has been rumoured as on offer, but it seems very unlikely as Boeing has done no work to extend the range and it’s simply too small to make it viable. 

Suspension of the 777-8’s development isn’t necessarily the end of the road for it as it’s unlikely the first Qantas non-stop service will be before 2023. But with 777-9 unlikely to see service entry until around March 2021, it seems a stretch to think the 777-8 will be ready in standard format never mind extending its range.

There isn’t an airline in Europe that isn’t watching Qantas and it’s choice very carefully. British Airways, the only airline in Europe still flying to Australia, KLM and AirFrance are all looking to return. Virgin Atlantic is also very keen to get back to Australia having pulled out because of exchange rate issues 5 years ago. Lufthansa will also have an eye on the the much anticipated “re-opening” of Australia and New Zealand.

BA and Virgin Atlantic will be even more enthusiastic and experienced as they’re the only A350-1000 operators in Europe. Adding another order to operate a route to Sydney or Auckland is an easy call.

The airlines not looking forward to the day direct flights become viable, are Emirates and Qatar, who’s major hub transfer routes will be made largely redundant over time.

Qantas begins test flying the 787-9 by filtering new deliveries via London. The airline will then fly 40 employees and test materials non-stop. The plan is to see how people behave, what they eat and drink, how they sleep and what they watch. It’s pretty much a 23 hour flight with a +1 day arrival time and an 11 hour time shift.