Qantas Resumes Project Sunrise, A350-1000 Order

Qantas Resumes Project Sunrise, A350-1000 Order

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Before the pandemic, Qantas was getting ready to launch what was possibly one of the most exciting projects in commercial aviation. Unfortunately it had to be put on hold for a couple of years due to the pandemic, given the situation Qantas was in. The good news is that this is once again actively being worked on.

What is Qantas’ Project Sunrise?

Project Sunrise is something that Qantas has been working on for many years. For context, currently the world’s longest flight is operated by Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR, as the airline flies nonstop between Singapore and New York. That flight covers a distance of over 9,500 miles and can take up to 18 hours.

For several years now, Qantas has been working on “Project Sunrise,” whereby the airline hopes to launch nonstop flights from Melbourne and Sydney to London and New York. These flights would be 10,000+ miles, and could potentially take 20+ hours. They’d significantly cut travel time in these markets, and would likely be quite popular, especially with premium travelers.

Qantas challenged both Airbus and Boeing to come up with a plane capable of completing these missions. In December 2019, Qantas announced plans to order the A350-1000, as Airbus is able to add extra fuel tanks to these planes and increase the maximum takeoff weight, giving these planes the specifications that Qantas requires.

At the time the plan was for Qantas to formally confirm the order by March 2020, allowing the airline to start these flights in the first half of 2023. As you may have guessed, the pandemic totally changed that, and Qantas was no longer in a position to invest in this concept. That’s now changing…

Qantas plans to use the A350-1000 for Project Sunrise

Qantas plans A350-1000 deliveries in 2025

During this week’s half year financial results session, an update was provided by Qantas on Project Sunrise:

  • Qantas now plans to order the Airbus A350-1000 by the middle of 2022
  • This would allow Qantas to launch these flights in 2025

Essentially everything has just been pushed back by two years here, in terms of both the order timeline and the potential delivery timeline. Of course it’s anyone’s guess if that timeline sticks this time around, but it’s at least encouraging to see that this is something that Qantas is still working toward.

The 787 would no longer be Qantas’ longest range aircraft

Bottom line

Qantas’ Project Sunrise is once again on, with the plan for Qantas to order A350-1000s in the middle of 2022, and launch the world’s longest flights as of 2025. It sure would be cool to see these flights become a reality, especially since Qantas plans to configure these A350s in a very premium configuration, including with first class.

Do you think Qantas’ Project Sunrise timeline will stick, or is it all talk for now?

Conversations (29)
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  1. Dave Guest

    I am just curious how many seats Qantas will configure in the A350- 1000? 260 seats? A350-1000 is similar in size as 777-300ER.

  2. Lachlan Darsen Guest

    i am a total avgeek so sunrise project all the ways

  3. Jennifer Guest

    I am hoping that the aircraft will be delivered sooner than 2025 because I really don’t want to fly to LAX

  4. Peter Guest

    Excellent selection for Qantas. A plane only makes money when in the air so the stop is not required. If it lands In Singapore or Fiji or Hawaii, that means that Qantas will have to spend money for landing fees and parking at a gate and fuel etc.
    I would love to go on one of those trips.

  5. john christmas Guest

    No matter who produces the Aircraft for these long flights, 20 hrs is a long time to be cooped up in a tube. You can only watch videos for so long and you would need to stretch you legs quite a bit. The food (the high light of the trip-or should be) would have to be outstanding.
    Plus the need for extra comfort, wider seats, also a bar with seating. As I said before 20 hrs is a long time.

    1. John Guest

      Be careful john christmas! @ConcordPerson is a newbie here and is full of awkward newbie enthusiasm *eye roll* this means she will answer every post as if it were directed at her in her capacity as an 'expert'!

  6. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    .......strange.

  7. Steve A Guest

    Makes good sense, doesn't it?
    Spend 2 years' of total Qantas profits (in the good times), to buy just maybe 12 aircraft, to fly maybe 350,000 people annually, on maybe 5 daily flights, to a couple of destinations, to make maybe a couple of hundred million dollars each year.
    Who would want to be a Qantas shareholder? They suffered no dividend payments for 7 years just gone, and are going through another 7...

    Makes good sense, doesn't it?
    Spend 2 years' of total Qantas profits (in the good times), to buy just maybe 12 aircraft, to fly maybe 350,000 people annually, on maybe 5 daily flights, to a couple of destinations, to make maybe a couple of hundred million dollars each year.
    Who would want to be a Qantas shareholder? They suffered no dividend payments for 7 years just gone, and are going through another 7 year dividend drought right now as the airline has suffered billions of dollars more in losses than profits under the current management regime.
    Billions of dollars of assets have been sold off, and billions are owed to millions of Australians in flight credits because Qantas kept their money instead of refunding cancelled flights. On top of this, Qantas has upped its borrowings to more than $5.5 billion.
    Why not spend the money on replacing existing aircraft and updating the existing equipment to give QF customers a better experience seeing as how Qantas has seriously aged its fleet in recent years? After all, the A320neos were ordered in 2011. 11 years later, zero have been delivered.
    Or is this just the CEO standing on his soap box and puffing his chest out saying how great he is to the airline again?

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      And yet, implicit to the above rant, is the assumption that they can continue to operate as in the past, and be fine. That's fallacious.

      Yields continued to fall on the "Kangaroo routes" from both Europe and N.America, even as pax numbers rose. The southern-based carriers had to do something, and their previous attempts (i.e. expanding connecting gateways beyond SIN, and pairing with MidEast carriers) weren't solutions.

      So now, the choice is a nonstop. Whether...

      And yet, implicit to the above rant, is the assumption that they can continue to operate as in the past, and be fine. That's fallacious.

      Yields continued to fall on the "Kangaroo routes" from both Europe and N.America, even as pax numbers rose. The southern-based carriers had to do something, and their previous attempts (i.e. expanding connecting gateways beyond SIN, and pairing with MidEast carriers) weren't solutions.

      So now, the choice is a nonstop. Whether it succeeds or not is anyone's guess, but still-- biz as usual wasn't an option.

  8. Brianair Guest

    Great news for Qantas! I surely hope they put more effort into making these cabins actually comfortable for the lengths they fly and add more special features, hopefully, something similar to their A380s, as I feel like they fell short in some ways with their 787s. For instance, routes like PER-LHR or Australia-California must be torture in a 3-3-3 economy cabin.

    It's still hard to believe that shortly before COVID, they replaced the 747 on...

    Great news for Qantas! I surely hope they put more effort into making these cabins actually comfortable for the lengths they fly and add more special features, hopefully, something similar to their A380s, as I feel like they fell short in some ways with their 787s. For instance, routes like PER-LHR or Australia-California must be torture in a 3-3-3 economy cabin.

    It's still hard to believe that shortly before COVID, they replaced the 747 on SYD-SFO with a tiny 787 while keeping the flight 1x daily. (Yes, people will point out that they did do it indirectly by starting MEL-SFO and BNE-SFO with 787s later. But keep in mind that the MEL-SFO flight successfully coexisted with the SYD-SFO 747 flight for 15 months, with no reduction in frequency on either route. They could have downgauged SYD-SFO to a 787 15 months earlier, but they didn't. So perhaps SYD-SFO could work with something bigger than a 787. And BNE-SFO launched 2 months after SFO saw the Qantas 747 for the last time, and only lasted a month before COVID, so it's hard to judge.) SFO-SYD would be a great route for some of the spare A350s that aren't doing Project Sunrise. It fills the gap between the 787 and A380 nicely, something that can't come soon enough for Qantas, especially now that the 747s are gone.

  9. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    Oh yay, another QF ULH thread where 90% of the posts are people whining about "I'd never want to fly that long," as if anyone else gives a crap about their personal preferences. :-/

    But that said, it'll interesting to see just how much QF modifies these aircraft from the norm.

    I'm guessing some hybrid of the A359ULR and A321LR treatment:

    (1) allow the A35K to maximize the use of its (slightly smaller)...

    Oh yay, another QF ULH thread where 90% of the posts are people whining about "I'd never want to fly that long," as if anyone else gives a crap about their personal preferences. :-/

    But that said, it'll interesting to see just how much QF modifies these aircraft from the norm.

    I'm guessing some hybrid of the A359ULR and A321LR treatment:

    (1) allow the A35K to maximize the use of its (slightly smaller) center tank, similar to what was done with SQ's A359ULRs,

    (2) add additional tankage in the rear cargo bay. I'm guessing they'll go for removable tanks, rather than a permanent center like the -XLR; so that if Sunrise doesn't work out, these aircraft can be devolved and sold as standard A35Ks, similar to the condition made for the A359ULRs.

    1. avgeek1 Guest

      As if 90%(+) of people give a crap about your "guesses" as to how QF will configure their aircraft. :-/ You will most likely be wrong.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      But you do, since you took the time out of your life to comment on it. #Irony

    3. John Guest

      Ah, the exuberance of a newbie who feels she must talk on every thread and answer every post personally. Get. A. Life. #irony_is_lost_on_her

    4. Mystara Guest

      Sorry, but gotta agree. It would be nice if there could be even just one thread about Sunrise without the overwhelming majority of the posts being about how all these people would supposedly never do it. Gets quite tiresome.

  10. Creditcrunch Diamond

    These ultra long flights just don’t appeal to me, I like the stopover in DXB or SIN etc rather than 20+hrs even in business class.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Yeah i dont get it either, with business travel down and leisure travel on the up i would much rather have a stop over somewhere spend a day or two there then continue to Australia.

    2. Mike Guest

      I agree about the Singapore or Dubai or Qatar connection. I always liked them.
      That being said, I hate the LAX transit with a passion. The whole immigration experience while trying to catch your flight, without losing you luggage… hideous. If I could make it to the east coast without that stress, I’d do it in a heartbeat

  11. Clem Diamond

    I wonder if they're going to have regular economy seats in there or do it like Singapore Airlines and have premium economy as the lowest class of service. I don't think that it would be healthy for anyone to be in an economy seat for over 20 hours.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Sadly, SQ has gone all-standard A359 with regular Y seats, on its LAX-SIN nonstops, which can still hit 18hrs during winter.

      It was done due to pandemic-driven cargo, seeing as the A359ULRs cannot utilize their forward cargo bay; as well as the fact that SQ has taken delivery of several standard A359s that have the same 280tonne MTOW as the -ULRs.

      JFK-SIN was also launched, and flown for its first 3months, by the standard A359 with regular Y seats, as well.

    2. Jordan Member

      This is not a long term operation. They will revert back to the High J and PE when biz travel picks up, unless you have information about them removing those tanks and reconfiguring the cabins?

    3. TranceXplant Member

      That's my concern too. I don't mind ultra-long flights, having been a pre-pandemic regular of DFW-HKG (16.5 hrs) and ORD-HKG (15.5 hrs). But PE is the minimum cabin I'll fly them in, because not being able to fully straighten one's legs in Y becomes increasingly painful for a normal size (6'0") adult. This kind of thing is only going to get worse as flights get longer. So airlines need to give some thought to how...

      That's my concern too. I don't mind ultra-long flights, having been a pre-pandemic regular of DFW-HKG (16.5 hrs) and ORD-HKG (15.5 hrs). But PE is the minimum cabin I'll fly them in, because not being able to fully straighten one's legs in Y becomes increasingly painful for a normal size (6'0") adult. This kind of thing is only going to get worse as flights get longer. So airlines need to give some thought to how to make such flights more comfortable (and by extension healthier) for people in the back of the plane. Singapore's approach is probably the easiest, but may not bring in enough revenue on other routes.

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      But, as stated, even Singapore is largely abandoning that approach. With the exception of one SFO rotation, all of its N.American west coast nonstop destinations (LAX, SEA, YVR) are operated by standard A350s with regular Y. They even launched the 19hr JFK nonstop with a regular A359 at first, in order to take advantage of its ability to load the forward cargo bay.

  12. Philip Guest

    No thanks.20+ hours in a metal tube?They’d better have bars,a swimming pool and casino on board.

  13. Alonzo Diamond

    Wonder how much a first class flight in cash would be? I'd bet around $35,000.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Why would it?

      They haven't stated which classes of service would be offered (SQ doesn't offer F on its nearly 19hr JFK/EWR-SIN services)... and you can often buy Business for $5K or less, if booked in advance.

      These flights won't be that much longer. Very doubtful they could routinely justify quintuple of the typical J fare for a route, even if true F is offered.

  14. Alec Guest

    Nice timing the day after AZ talks about starting up the AKL-EWR route

  15. Travis Guest

    Any word on how many A350-1000's they're going to order?

    1. Tom Guest

      As per a press release from December 2019 they planned to take up to 12 aircrafts.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Creditcrunch Diamond

These ultra long flights just don’t appeal to me, I like the stopover in DXB or SIN etc rather than 20+hrs even in business class.

3
Steve Diamond

Yeah i dont get it either, with business travel down and leisure travel on the up i would much rather have a stop over somewhere spend a day or two there then continue to Australia.

2
john christmas Guest

No matter who produces the Aircraft for these long flights, 20 hrs is a long time to be cooped up in a tube. You can only watch videos for so long and you would need to stretch you legs quite a bit. The food (the high light of the trip-or should be) would have to be outstanding. Plus the need for extra comfort, wider seats, also a bar with seating. As I said before 20 hrs is a long time.

1
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