Qantas chooses A350 for Project Sunrise flights from 2023
Qantas this week announced their aircraft choice for the eagerly anticipated Project Sunrise. This is for the launch of their non-stop flights Sydney to London Heathrow and New York JFK in 2023. The airline expressed its wish to order Airbus’ A350-1000, with a new build standard featuring fuel tank modifications and a slight increase in MTOW to increase payload over that distance.
The oneworld carrier had already rejected a ‘best offer’ from Boeing (likely the 777-8X) and Airbus (A350-1000) just a few months ago, so it appears Airbus improved its terms to secure Qantas’ backing. However, the carrier has not yet ordered the aircraft, with a production slot deadline in March 2020 while it attempts in the meantime to gain crew union backing, and final board/regulatory approval.
A350-1000 flexibility and high payload/range loved by current operators
A look at how the A350-1000 is currently deployed in W19 gives some indication as to the flexibility of the type.
It is used extensively in three main markets. These include regional Middle East/Asian trunk routes. These are where strong passenger and cargo demand necessitates the payload of the A350. This can be seen with Qatar and Cathay’s use of the type, replacing older 777-300 (non-ER) types.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, deploy the type on premium-heavy ‘A-type market’ long-haul routes under eight hours, including Tel Aviv, New York JFK and Toronto with a large business cabin.
Finally, we have the ultra-hong haul market, where the type’s range/payload capability allows for trunk routes which previously required a stop to operate direct.
Qantas opportunities? Top unserved ultra long haul routes from Oz
The scale of the Australia to Europe market, which has surged in recent decades through the success of Emirates and Qatar’s hubs, is remarkable.
In total, four million passengers travelled between Australia and Western Europe in the past year, with 59,000 on the sole non-stop service: London Heathrow to Perth. This won anna.aero’s Platinum Planet award for route development at the launch in March 2018. It will be intriguing to see which of these large European and Middle Eastern markets will gain a non-stop flight, and what price premium consumers will pay to a one-stop.