Qantas Announces Decision on Project Sunrise

Winston ShekSTAFF | 12/19/2019

Photo Courtesy of Qantas

On December 12th, 2019, Qantas announced that it has picked Airbus' A350-1000 as its aircraft for its endeavor known as Project Sunrise.

Project Sunrise is Qantas' project to connect Australia to London and New York by 2023.  These two routes would become the longest routes in the world ahead of the current record held by Singapore Airlines' flight to Newark.  However, there is no aircraft that can make this journey currently. Due to this, Qantas requested Boeing and Airbus to make aircraft capable of handling these routes.  Airbus proposed an Airbus A350-100ULR while Boeing proposed its 777-8. 

After evaluating both aircraft, Qantas selected the A350-1000 for its needs if Project Sunrise continues ahead.  Qantas says, "This aircraft uses the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, which has a strong reliability record after being in service with airlines for more than two years. Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes."

A Qantas A380 Flies a Fl

Qantas is in talks with Airbus for up to 12 A350-1000s which needs to be approved by the Qantas Board.  Airbus will allow them to confirm their delivery slots in March 2020 which will buy the airline time to take care of other matters and allow them to meet their target goal of flights by 2023. 

Qantas has obstacles to tackle before being able to launch its Project Sunrise.  First, it needs the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to expand its operational limits of ultra-long haul flights for the crew.  This will allow them to launch flights to London and New York. This decision will be influenced by Qantas' research flights from New York and London to Sydney.  However, CASA finds nothing wrong currently based on data collected from the flights.

Qantas also needs to negotiate a deal with Qantas pilot via the AIPA are continuing.  The discussions are centered on productivity and efficiency for pilots and ideas like using A330 pilots on flights on the A350.  However, the pilots could completely reject the deal which would end the project.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has many words to say on the situation.

"Between the research flights and what we've learned from two years of flying Perth to London, we have a lot of confidence in the market for direct services like New York and London to the east coast of Australia."

"The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience."

"The aircraft and engine combination is next generation technology but it's thoroughly proven after more than two years in service. This is the right choice for the Sunrise missions and it also has the right economics to do other long haul routes if we want it to."

What are your thoughts on the situation?  Do you agree with Qantas' move for the A350?  Leave your comments in the comment section below.


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