Qantas Orders Airbus A350 For World’s Longest Flight

Qantas Orders Airbus A350 For World’s Longest Flight

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As expected, Qantas has just placed a massive order with Airbus. This includes an order for the Airbus A350-1000, which will allow the airline to operate the world’s longest flights.

Qantas orders 12 Airbus A350-1000s

Qantas has just placed a firm order for 12 Airbus A350-1000s, which the airline will use for its “Project Sunrise” flights.

For those not familiar with this, Qantas hopes to fly nonstop from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London, though currently no commercial aircraft are capable of operating this in an economical way. That’s expected to finally change, as Airbus will modify the A350 (by adding an extra 20,000 liters worth of fuel tanks) to make it capable of operating these missions.

Qantas hopes to launch these flights by the end of the 2025 calendar year, and you can expect flights from Sydney to launch before flights from Melbourne.

These flights will all be 10,000+ miles, could take 20+ hours, and will be the world’s longest flights. They’ll represent a huge reduction in travel time for these markets, and will likely be popular, especially with premium travelers.

Qantas has placed a massive aircraft order with Airbus

What will Qantas’ Airbus A350-1000s be like?

Qantas’ A350-1000s will be specially configured for long haul flying, and will be in a very spacious configuration:

  • Qantas’ A350-1000s will carry just 238 passengers, which is way fewer seats than you’ll find on most carriers’ A350s
  • The planes will feature four classes of service, including six first class seats, 52 business class seats, 40 premium economy seats, and 140 economy seats
  • Economy will feature 33″ of pitch, which is incredibly generous, and much more spacious than what you’d typically find in economy (where 31″ is the standard for long haul flights)
  • Qantas will be introducing a new first class suite on A350-1000s
  • Qantas A350-1000s will feature a dedicated wellness zone

I’ll talk more about the cabin interiors in a separate post, because there’s lots to cover.

What we should expect from Qantas’ A350s

Qantas finalizes Airbus A321XLR & A220-300 order

While I’d say the A350-1000 order is the most exciting part of this announcement, Qantas has also finalized its order for the A321XLR and A220-300. The airline first announced its intention to order Airbus jets in late 2021, but the order wasn’t finalized.

Qantas has now placed a firm order for 20 Airbus A321XLRs:

  • This is the longest range and largest version of the Airbus A320 family
  • Deliveries are expected to start in late 2024
  • These planes will feature 200 seats, including 20 business class seats and 180 economy class seats
  • These planes will primarily be used to replace Boeing 737 aircraft
  • The plane is much more capable than the 737, and can fly approximately 3,000km further than the 737, and opens up a wider range of direct domestic and short haul international routes, including to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands
Range of the Qantas A321XLR

Qantas has also placed a firm order for 20 Airbus A220-300s:

  • This is the largest version of the Airbus A220 family
  • Deliveries are expected to start in late 2023
  • These planes will feature 137 seats, including 10 business class seats and 127 economy class seats
  • These planes will primarily be used to replace Boeing 717 aircraft
  • The plane is much more capable than the 717, and can fly approximately twice as far (over 6,000 kilometers), meaning it can fly between any cities in Australia
Range of the Qantas A220-300

In addition to these firm orders, Qantas has further purchase rights for 94 Airbus aircraft over a 10 year delivery window, including other A320neo family aircraft, plus the smaller A220-100.

Qantas is ordering A321s and A220s

Bottom line

Qantas has just placed its largest aircraft order ever. This includes ordering 12 Airbus A350-1000s, which will be used for Project Sunrise flights, directly connecting Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London. These flights are expected to launch in late 2025. Qantas has also given us a glimpse into what we can expect on these planes, and I’m pretty excited!

In addition to that, Qantas has finalized its order for the A321XLR and A220-300, which will be used for renewing the carrier’s short haul fleet. These are both much better planes than the existing 737s and 717s that they’ll be replacing.

This is all so cool to see, and is a very impressive fleet renewal for the airline.

What do you make of Qantas’ big Airbus order?

Conversations (77)
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  1. JC Guest

    33" pitch is not "incredibly generous" - it's barely acceptable. Where are the extra leg room economy seats. Many carriers offer 34" plus in this category. I think your perspective is warped by too many crappy budget carrier habits. 31" is the cheapest of the cheap seats in any standard economy these days. Definitely nothing to crow about on an 18 hour flight - ooooo I got an extra 2 inches. Please keep charging my grateful credit card.

  2. Daniel Guest

    Can the a380 make these 20 hour long flights non-stop flights? That was such a wonderful plane to fly in even in coach

    1. Mike C Gold

      Not quite. QF flies them from Sydney to Dallas, and at the moment between Darwin and London, but that's about the limit, at least at full load.

  3. John Guest

    Why can't you right in gallons miles feet inches etc I realize you're audience is worldwide but you're writing out of the US we still use gallons feet inches etc we don't use the met rics if you want to use the metric system then my suggestion is to go and live in another country and base your blog there but you live in the US Tampa Florida I believe or Miami Florida I forget which one so please write in feet and inches in gallons measurements thank you

    1. VL3 Guest

      his blog, he writes what he wants. Find another blog that writes in imperial format. ps 95% of the world population uses metric

  4. FlyerDon Guest

    Fewer seats is probably a necessity due to the amount of fuel they will need to carry. It’s going to be a flying gas station.

  5. Troy Guest

    Can't say i would consider this in economy myself - but in Business or First i think it would be fine.

    My last trip to the US i flew Perth to Singapore - had a 6 hour lay over, then took the Singapore to San Francisco flight which had a stop over in Hong Kong. All up it made for a REALLY long couple of days of travel.

    In felt like i just got settled...

    Can't say i would consider this in economy myself - but in Business or First i think it would be fine.

    My last trip to the US i flew Perth to Singapore - had a 6 hour lay over, then took the Singapore to San Francisco flight which had a stop over in Hong Kong. All up it made for a REALLY long couple of days of travel.

    In felt like i just got settled on the plane, when we landed in HK. That meant changing back into clothes, packing up and collecting all my stuff and the hassle of navigating the airport - all for an hour, before going back to the aircraft, settling back into the same seat and getting changed back into my comfy PJ's.

    Totally appreciate that it's not everyones cup of tea, but there's plenty of options for people that like to stop over and spend a bit of time travelling somewhere. In my case - my holiday was travelling the US, so all the stop overs just took away from time i could have spent at my destination.

  6. csmede Guest

    Will the SYD-LON flight be able to go non-stop while avoiding russian airspace?

  7. John Rossa Guest

    I've done the JFK to BKK route when Thai Air flew it with the A340 and the EWR to SIN on Singapore Airlines' A350 pre-Covid. Both were done in Premium Eco and were just fine for me. However, I wouldn't want to be stuck in the middle seat in Eco for any of these long-hauls! Given my excessive flatulence, neither would my seat mates, I would imagine.

  8. Criced Criced Guest

    Will Qantas have any Boeing aircrafts left in the furure or?

    1. skimegheath Gold

      Lots of Boeing in domestic.

  9. stogieguy7 Diamond

    Many of my fellow commenters are very critical of the concept of spending 20 hours on a single flight. While I would also be reluctant, that's not the point of this product. It offers an option that does not currently exist. Some people require expediency to get from London or New York to Australia, generally due to business requirements, but perhaps a family issue could require urgency as well. While most of us would prefer...

    Many of my fellow commenters are very critical of the concept of spending 20 hours on a single flight. While I would also be reluctant, that's not the point of this product. It offers an option that does not currently exist. Some people require expediency to get from London or New York to Australia, generally due to business requirements, but perhaps a family issue could require urgency as well. While most of us would prefer to break up such a long trip, for those people the urgency of getting there outweighs that. And why QF is doing here is giving people more travel options. We can all still choose itineraries that have the long trip broken up - as always. And that's the point - because offering a unique option also offers QF a profitable market that it will have to itself (for a while at least).

  10. AA Guest

    I'd go stir crazy in the pointy end for 20hrs, let alone in the back, but at least it would be in some sort of comfort.
    33" pitch is not generous - cattle are legally mandated to have more room in transit - especially when it vanishes as soon as some bell end reclines fully and leaves it there for the duration of the flight. The race to the bottom in Y continues.

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Let's keep in mind that Boeing is years away from delivering the B777X, the only other airplane that could do flights this long. Airbus is simply going to continue to win orders for the A350 because it is large enough to get better economics than the B787 for ultra long haul routes even as Boeing continues to be delayed in delivering 787s.
    Given that most airlines have the same number of seats across on...

    Let's keep in mind that Boeing is years away from delivering the B777X, the only other airplane that could do flights this long. Airbus is simply going to continue to win orders for the A350 because it is large enough to get better economics than the B787 for ultra long haul routes even as Boeing continues to be delayed in delivering 787s.
    Given that most airlines have the same number of seats across on the 787 as the 350 even though the 350 is wider, any airline that is at all interested in passenger comfort will choose the 350 anyway.

  12. Sydneysider Guest

    The A321XLR map is geographically incorrect. ‘Melbourne’ is where Adelaide is in real life.
    Fanciful artist impressions of cabins I can handle. Incorrect maps of an airline’s home country, not so much!

    1. skimegheath Gold

      I had to go and check - that is soooo bad! I am surprised there has not been more in the media.

  13. AJ23 Guest

    Trash product from a trash and dishonest airline. Still waiting seven months for a refund. The airline that used government money to keep people employed to fire them instead.

  14. Aniljak Guest

    Imagine what it will be like for the poor person stuck in a middle economy seat on a full flight for 20 hours! A350 economy seating is 3-3-3 across.
    Oh yeah, every economy passenger is supposedly going to be able to get up and exercise regularly!!!
    Fun trying to sleep if passengers are encouraged to walk a circuit of the plane.
    Qantas should do a real test : economy passengers having to...

    Imagine what it will be like for the poor person stuck in a middle economy seat on a full flight for 20 hours! A350 economy seating is 3-3-3 across.
    Oh yeah, every economy passenger is supposedly going to be able to get up and exercise regularly!!!
    Fun trying to sleep if passengers are encouraged to walk a circuit of the plane.
    Qantas should do a real test : economy passengers having to battle the long queues at Heathrow then jammed in a middle economy seat for 20 hours!
    And they want to charge a premium because its non-stop!!!!!
    Give me a multi stop flight anytime.

    1. Jayceegee New Member

      Truth be told, I would probably opt for a 2-3 hour layover in Singapore rather than spend a full 20+ hours in economy on a non-stop flight...

    2. JohnRossa Member

      A 2-3 hour layover in Changi would be something that I would actually look forward to!

  15. Sam A Guest

    These flights would be good for people living in the specific cities - i.e. of the 8 million people in London who want to go to Sydney and vice versa. For the remaining 750 million in Europe, and the rest of the UK, it's likely quicker and easier to stop in Singapore, Qatar or Dubai than fly in the reverse direction and transit through LHR.

    If they open up routes to other cities in continental...

    These flights would be good for people living in the specific cities - i.e. of the 8 million people in London who want to go to Sydney and vice versa. For the remaining 750 million in Europe, and the rest of the UK, it's likely quicker and easier to stop in Singapore, Qatar or Dubai than fly in the reverse direction and transit through LHR.

    If they open up routes to other cities in continental Europe that are within a train ride that will be much more useful to many more people. Hopefully they don't do CDG - which is a nightmare to transit - and instead do FRA or ZRH but since there is not much One World connectivity maybe they do MAD instead. Problem is they will never be able to offer the same quantity of city pairs that SQ or EK can offer.

  16. John Phillips Guest

    Did the QF DFW-SYD about 17 hours, on a B747, got very restless towards the end, even as QF had upgraded me to First. If flying SYD-LHR I prefer a stopover both ways in SIN, catch some rays, have a swim in the hotel pool, and suck on some cleansing ales.

    Problem flying to JFK, I suppose a break in LA would be nice. Both treks a stopover IMO better than non stop.

  17. Simon Guest

    Maybe I’m getting older (almost 40), but despite my love for flying, my mostly excitement is mixed with a touch of worry at the thought of my upcoming flights EWR-SIN in SQ biz. I wouldn’t consider premium economy on that route - I’ve done SEA-INC in Delta’s new premium economy and that’s the longest I could take without a flat bed.

    Regular economy on these flights?!!! Maybe it’s because I’m more “wide” than “tall”...

    Maybe I’m getting older (almost 40), but despite my love for flying, my mostly excitement is mixed with a touch of worry at the thought of my upcoming flights EWR-SIN in SQ biz. I wouldn’t consider premium economy on that route - I’ve done SEA-INC in Delta’s new premium economy and that’s the longest I could take without a flat bed.

    Regular economy on these flights?!!! Maybe it’s because I’m more “wide” than “tall” but those extra inches of pitch wouldn’t affect my comfort in the least. Stop the madness!!

  18. skimegheath Gold

    The formal announcement was made a few hours by QF. Lots of picture out there of the business seats.

  19. JOHN Guest

    Living in Australia and travelling frequently to Europe and the USA I don't think I really want to spend 20 hours on a plane even in business class. The flight from Sydney to Dubai or Sydney to Los Angeles at about 14 hours is long enough.

    1. Mike C Gold

      I thought that too, but I found the extra time SYD-DFW (in Y) didn't make much difference, so I'd be up for SYD-JFK. Likewise SYD-AKL-JFK or SYD-SIN-JFK.

  20. Watson Gold

    What destinations can be reached from SYD on an A321XLR?

    1. Aniljak Guest

      A lot of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia are within range!
      Qantas are already talking about services to Vietnam with the A321s.
      A220s will also be able to fly simiar distances and across Australia. Expect to see flights to lots more regional centres

  21. Azamaraal Diamond

    I keep forgetting - this is QA not QR.

    Flew YVR-SYD upper deck 747 in 2018 and it was miserable - service very spotty, lousy wine and food almost indedible.

    20 hours would be torture.

  22. Azamaraal Diamond

    38" seat pitch quite common in economy in the original DC 8 - 52. How soon we forget.

    1. Kiwi Guest

      And 747’s were pretty much universally 34” in Y when the 747-400 was launched back in -1990 albeit with much thicker seats(whether that is a pro or con depends on whether you value space or seat comfort I suppose)

  23. Azamaraal Diamond

    I've done 16 hours in Y (DXB-DFW) on EK with 31" pitch and survived (barely). 34" would make all the difference.
    Recently bumped from Q suites to row 42 on QR DOH-SEA and survived (barely).
    20 hours wouldn't be all that bad with 34" pitch - esp for younger folks.
    Look for me in row 4.;-).

    1. Watson Gold

      Curious what the compensation was for that bumping on QR?

  24. Crosscourt Guest

    Looking forward to this. Have done Perth London non stop and it's great. Paris is also on the schedule. To those who said this will never happen, do you need seasoning with the words you eat?

    1. Airfarer Diamond

      I've done that also, but was in business. I wouldn't do that in the back.

  25. Kris Guest

    My longest flight thus far was LAX to Singapore, 17 hours nonstop on United. Even though it was Dreamliner and the humidity levels were higher, it was simply too long to be on an airplane. Granted, I didn’t need to attend a business meeting, but I would much rather be able to get off and stretch a little en route. Arriving completely wrecked isn’t worth arriving a little faster, IMO

  26. shoeguy Guest

    12 frames is not a "massive" order.

    1. stogieguy7 Diamond

      To be fair, it's 52 airframes. The A350-1000 order just headlined it.

  27. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Nope these ultra long flights are not for me, 20+ hours is just crazy even in J or F, i would have to do circuits around the entire plane, a bit like what people do on cruise ships, perhaps they will encourage passengers to do just that with helpful illuminating arrows on the floor so we all walk in the same direction.

  28. PassengerSam Guest

    Will Air New Zealand go one up and offer AKL - LHR direct?! That would be a flight and a half!

    1. Anon Guest

      AirNZ ruled that out a few years ago.

      They pulled out of LHR altogether and direct it’s LHR based customers through to Singapore Airlines.

    2. Anon Guest

      Sorry I meant they direct their LHR bound travellers, not based. Ooops.

  29. Norm Guest

    I’am convinced Alan Joyce and the Qantas crew-members had their minds made up for sometime on this choice, but were prevailed from making it a Firm Order, due to external factors(Covid/Politics/Commercial, including Boeing’s reckless actions. Can’t wait to jump on one of these flights in 2025, and Domestic on their A321XLR and 220-300’s. Good Luck to the Qantas TEAM

    1. Aniljak Guest

      It was reported in Australian media today that Qantas was only 11 weeks from bankruptcy when covid restrictions started to lift!

  30. Tahsin Guest

    Looking forward to these flights becoming a regular thing. A350s are fine planes, most comfortable 2 engine imo. When it comes to short haul in narrow body, I prefer the A320/1 over the B737, and for wide body if seats/cabins are equal my ranking for comfort goes: A380 & B747 > A340/350 > A330 & B777/787 > B767.

    1. Max Guest

      A340 should be grouped together with A330, not A350. It's basically the same plane as the A330 just with 2 more engines.

    2. Tahsin Guest

      I do think the A340 provides a smoother ride than the A330 though, and since I flew the LH version of A340, there was the bathrooms located downstairs, which added a coolness factor as well for me personally.

  31. Michael Cush Guest

    Wow…. 34” seat pitch in Y class is very impressive!

    1. Max Guest

      Has long been standard on Premium Airlines such as Korean Air and Japan Airlines. Very ironic considering body size in these two countries is on average much smaller than in Europe & the US.

    2. Kiwi Guest

      34” was the original standard on the 747 they’ve just maintained it while BA NZ QF UA LH KL AF TG et all dropped it to the current 30-32”

    3. TM Gold

      34" doesn't really matter if your row is full. Sure the A350 is a bit wider than the 787 for 3-3-3 economy seating, but still 20 hours would be hell.

  32. InceptionCat Guest

    The A350 will apparently be sitting 369 pax in 4 classes and not 270 according to the always well informed Executive Traveller.

    1. Jackson07 New Member

      That seems like an awfully high seat count.
      I imagine the actual tally would be lower.

    2. JulianH Guest

      It is more likely to be closer to 270 due it being premium class heavy, the long distance non-stop flight requiring the extra fuel tanks, resulting in it being unable to sit 369 pax economically fuel wise.

      Singapore Airlines for its non stop Singapore - Newark service has 253 seats in a three-class configuration consisting of business, premium economy, and economy classes.

      I suspect, outside peak periods, when the A350-1000 comes into Service...

      It is more likely to be closer to 270 due it being premium class heavy, the long distance non-stop flight requiring the extra fuel tanks, resulting in it being unable to sit 369 pax economically fuel wise.

      Singapore Airlines for its non stop Singapore - Newark service has 253 seats in a three-class configuration consisting of business, premium economy, and economy classes.

      I suspect, outside peak periods, when the A350-1000 comes into Service QF will run Sydney X2 daily, a daily A350-1000 non stop and one 787 Sydney - Singapore - London flight which will only have 3 classes and a far larger economy class component. This will be far more profitable than running the A380 year round and Qantas still has the additional slots (that it currently leases out) at LHR to accommodate this.

      With a Melbourne - London A350-1000 service that frees up 787s which Qantas could continue Perth - London non-stop flights as well as introduce Brisbane - London one stop services.

    3. Rick Guest

      Not sure where you got the 369 pax figure from. Everything I have seen in Australia, including from Qantas and Executive Traveller says the plane will have 238 seats.

  33. Jesper Guest

    Japan Airlines has 34" as standard pitch in Y for long haul aircraft.

    1. Trey Guest

      I think JAL is also the only (if not one of very few) airlines to do 2-4-2 in Y on a 787.

    2. Jesper Guest

      Indeed. 2-4-2 on international 787 and 3-3-3 on international 777.

      Domestic configurations are 3-3-3 and 3-4-3. Though no more domestic 777 flying as they were the PW4000 powered models, and were retired after the United incident.

  34. Costa Athan Guest

    Great choice of airplane manufacturer! Airbus or bust baby. Qantas got it right!

    1. Robert Guest

      It'll be interesting to see the body/paint/corrosion outcome from the Qatar problems

  35. Tortuga Diamond

    I think I'd require a straightjacket after 20 hours in the air, but at least I'd be wearing one on the most comfortable 2-engine plane around.

  36. Greg M Guest

    Qantas has been a loyal Boeing customer for so long. But Boeing has become so racked with problems (Max 8 & Dreamliner issues, 777X delays), that QF really had no choice but to go with Airbus. I could certainly see flying these Sunrise routes in first & business, but 20 hrs in PE or E would be hell no matter what airline or aircraft.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Greg M

      Airbus has had its fair share of problems. Adding fuel tanks to an a350. I feel safe already.

    2. RAM Guest

      Qantas has not been such a 'loyal' Boeing customer - in fact the decision to choose the A380 over the B777 turned into a major 'vanity' decision that cost Qantas massive revenue due to the much lower 'other' cargo capacity of the A380 vs the B777. This created an opening for other international airlines to increase their Australian flights due to increased revenue yields due to this loss of Qantas 'other cargo' capacity.

      Qantas' international...

      Qantas has not been such a 'loyal' Boeing customer - in fact the decision to choose the A380 over the B777 turned into a major 'vanity' decision that cost Qantas massive revenue due to the much lower 'other' cargo capacity of the A380 vs the B777. This created an opening for other international airlines to increase their Australian flights due to increased revenue yields due to this loss of Qantas 'other cargo' capacity.

      Qantas' international fleet is approx 80% Airbus & 20% Boeing prior to this order.

  37. Fulmar Guest

    When QF launched PER-LHR with the 787 they were targetting the premium end, but were highly surprised about load factors in ALL classes. Pre Covid it was probably the most profitable intl route. People hate changing planes. Ok, MEL, SYD, BNE etc had to change planes in PER but that was a different mindset from changing in SIN, DXB or other. QF clearly realised that one loooong flight is preferable to a stopover for many, possibly most, pax.

    1. Robert Guest

      It's a shame, the flight is typically the highlight of my leisure travel, why not enjoy more and connect???

    2. Adam Simmons Guest

      I'd much rather take a break on a long-haul like Australia to Europe if I'm not pressed for time. I expect that, even in Business Class, I'd be climbing the walls on a 20 hour flight (my longest is 13.5, from SYD to DEL).

    3. James Guest

      The biggest thing was you were able to clear immigration in Perth rather than Sydney which is sometimes worse than JFK for connecting passengers

  38. RF Diamond

    Although it would be nice to have the wider cabin width of the 777X on these ultra long-haul flights, the endless delays by Boeing make choosing Airbus the wise decision.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      ....orrrrr, it could just be that Airbus offered the superior product for the airline's need, from the start.

      Seems that a lot of people struggle to accept that simple but high probability.

    2. MG Guest

      Possibly, due to your *simple as that* opinion is not the final say the entire world agrees with :)

    3. reddargon Diamond

      I think you're reading something into the comment that isn't there. The delays make it a wise decision, but that doesn't mean other things don't also make it a wise decision. The comment really doesn't touch on any substantive points other than the 777X has a wider cabin.

    4. JC Guest

      The Boeing fan club will never accept the fact that their once beloved company is a hollowed out ponzi wreck of a corporation run by murderers and profit scalpers. Not even the fact that Boeing can't even design and deliver a variant for a a decade since inception (hrumph 777-x (little x)) will sway them. Only a fool would invest in the 777-x now - please remind me any recent orders for this waste of airspace "plane".

    5. TravelCat2 Member

      Based on SQ's aircraft (A350-900ULR vs. B777-300ER) the economy cabin in the A350 is a 2-4-2 configuration vs. 3-3-3 on the B777. Also, the seats are 1/2" wider on the A350. As a passenger in economy, the width factor works in favor of the A350.

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Jesper Guest

Japan Airlines has 34" as standard pitch in Y for long haul aircraft.

4
Greg M Guest

Qantas has been a loyal Boeing customer for so long. But Boeing has become so racked with problems (Max 8 & Dreamliner issues, 777X delays), that QF really had no choice but to go with Airbus. I could certainly see flying these Sunrise routes in first & business, but 20 hrs in PE or E would be hell no matter what airline or aircraft.

4
Adam Simmons Guest

I'd much rather take a break on a long-haul like Australia to Europe if I'm not pressed for time. I expect that, even in Business Class, I'd be climbing the walls on a 20 hour flight (my longest is 13.5, from SYD to DEL).

3
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