Published: Sat, December 14, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Qantas Selects A350-1000 for Non-Stop Flights to London and NY

Qantas Selects A350-1000 for Non-Stop Flights to London and NY

The Australian airline announced on Friday that if it continues "Project Sunrise", its ultra-long-haul flights from Sydney to London or NY, they will be aboard an Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

Qantas is now evaluating the feasibility of ultra-long-haul flights such as non-stop routes from London and NY to Sydney.

Airbus, for its part, has extended the deadline to set aircraft production slots from February to March to enable aircraft to be delivered in 2023, when Qantas plans to open long-haul flights.

"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", the airline explained in a press release. Airbus will install an additional fuel tank and increase its maximum takeoff weight to be able to operate Qantas missions.

Qantas challenged manufacturers to optimize their competing aircraft - the A350-1000 and the 777-8X - to provide the required range. "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", explained Alan Joyce, CEO of the Qantas group. Qantas hasn't placed an order yet, but if the non-stop routes go ahead, it'll purchase 12.

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Qantas said this played a role in its decision, particularly as it's still negotiating how it would compensate its cabin crew for the flights, which could entail working for up to 22 hours straight.

The 19-hour journeys would be the longest passenger flights ever run by a commercial airline.

Mark Sedgwick, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said the pilot union was looking for a win-win deal that benefited the company and pilots, but so far the negotiations had not struck that balance. According to QANTAS CASA sees no obstacles in granting regulatory approval. "The discussions are aimed at closing the last remaining gap in the Project Sunrise business case". If the direct flights do become a reality, they'll take place on Airbus A350-1000 planes, which have been in use in the industry for more than two years.

"From the outset, we've been clear that Project Sunrise depends on a business case that works". The airline also claimed to be testing the effects of the flights on the human body. "We'll only commit to this investment if we know it will generate the right return for our shareholders given the inherent commercial risks", Joyce said in his statement. "We're offering promotions and an increase in pay but we're asking for some flexibility in return, which will help lower our operating costs".

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