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Qantas selects A350 for Sunrise flights

Airbus A350-1000 Qantas

- 13 December 2019 -
Qantas has selected the Airbus A350 as the preferred aircraft type for its ultra long-haul Project Sunrise. The airline has not yet made a final go/no-go decision, however.

Qantas has held a detailed evaluation of the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350, with the A350-1000 as the winner if Sunrise proceeds. One of the considerations is the use of the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine in the A350, which has a strong reliability record after more than two years in airline service. For Project Sunrise, Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.

Qantas has not yet placed an order, but it says it has the intention to order twelve of the type if Sunrise proceeds. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: 'The deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience.' Airbus and Qantas are negotiating delivery slots which should make it possible to begin Project Sunrise flights in the first half of 2023. A final decision is expected in March 2020.

Qantas will conduct the third of three Project Sunrise research flights (New York-Sydney) on 17 December. After arrival in Sydney, the airline will have almost 60 hours of ‘Sunrise flying’ experience and lots of data on crew and passenger wellbeing. Based on the data so far, CASA has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles for the Sunrise flights. Negotiations with representatives of Qantas pilots, AIPA, continue. The airline is offering extra pay to its long-haul pilots and aims efficiency gains by deploying pilots on both A350 Sunrise aircraft and its Airbus A330s.

The Sunrise aircraft will have new cabins for all passenger classes. The research flights have underscored the importance of dedicated space for stretching and moving around for economy passengers in particular.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the carrier’s support for Project Sunrise is stronger than ever: 'Between the research flights and what we’ve learned from two years of flying Perth to London, we have a lot of confidence in the market for direct services like New York and London to the east coast of Australia.' (Image: Airbus)

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