Last March Qantas launched one of the longest flights in the world from Perth to London non-stop.
The search for a plane capable to fly ultra-long-range flights is called ‘Project Sunrise’. Qantas CEO told reporters that it would need aircraft that can fly nonstop with a full payload from Sydney to New York or London.
Qantas is considering a four-cabin design for the aircraft that would fly these routes. That means first class, business class, premium economy and economy class would be featured on the ‘Project Sunrise’ aircraft.
On the IATA aviation summit in Sydney, Alison Webster head of Qantas’s international business said. “We are looking at an aircraft configuration that gives us some flexibility and opportunity for around an over 300 passenger seat count on the aircraft for the economics to be in the right place for us.”
That’s a high target compared to Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR with just a two-class layout of 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats. The two aircraft competing for the Qantas’ Project Sunrise order, are the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350-900ULR. Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz said that an ultra-long-range version of its new A350-1000 is on the table, too, which could enable Qantas to carry more passengers on these routes.
There would not be a big market for these ultra long range planes.
“I will not pretend that we will sell 1500 airplanes – a reasonable assumption could be in the neighbourhood of 50 or 100 airplanes.”
Also Air New Zealand can benefit from Qantas’ Project Sunrise as they will be retiring their long-haul Boeing 777 fleet by 2022.