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Qantas to announce ‘Project Sunrise’ flights tomorrow, to finalise A350-1000 order too

Qantas is expected to announce ‘Project Sunrise’ flights tomorrow and also is expected to finalise Airbus A350-1000 aircraft order soon.

Project Sunrise

Qantas has been talking of Project Sunrise flights for quite some time now. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the plans were almost in place for the airline to launch flights but then the pandemic happened and the project was temporarily kept on hold. In fact, Qantas was set to finalise its A350 order in February 2020, just weeks before the pandemic struck.

However, now with the pandemic easing around the world except in some parts of the world, Qantas has once again been thinking about the project and it is now expected that the Australian flag carrier will place A350-1000 order with Airbus tomorrow.

What is Project Sunrise?

Project Sunrise is primarily aimed at launching nonstop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London, New York (and probably Paris), with other city-pairs to follow.

These flights will be over 10,000 miles long and could be over 20 hours long, making them the world’s longest flights. They would cut the travel time between these cities significantly.

Aircraft order expected tomorrow

Qantas will hold a press conference to “make a significant announcement about the future shape of its network” at 8:30 am Australia time on Monday 2nd May 2022, with the venue set for the airline’s Hangar 96 at Sydney Airport.

The airline is expected to order 12 Airbus A350-1000ULR (Ultra long range) aircraft. Presently, no aircraft is capable of operating these routes in an economical way. However, this is changing as Airbus has modified its A350 aircraft specially for Qantas. Airbus has added additional fuel tanks to make these flights possible.

Qantas’ A350-1000s will feature just 270 seats, significantly lower than what you will find on other airlines’ A350-1000s. The aircraft will feature 4 classes of service, First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class. Economy seats will have 34 inches of pitch, much more than you would typically find in economy (where 31 inches is the standard for long haul flights). It is also expected that the airline will introduce upgraded First Class, Business Class and Premium Economy seats over the existing seats. However, until now, no details have been given by the airline regarding this.

An Airbus A350-1000 is currently flying from Toulouse to Sydney with a stop in Perth, clearly in preparation for this announcement. The A350-1000 has the Qantas logo on it, and the hashtag #LongRangeLeader.

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Airbus has also invited media to “a cocktail reception to celebrate four decades of Airbus partnerships with the Australian aviation industry” that will be held in Sydney on Monday evening. Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus and other company executives will also be present at the event.

Project Sunrise flights are expected to begin in 2025.

A321XLR and A220-300 order finalisation

In addition to A350-1000 order announcement, Qantas is also expected to finalise its A321XLR and A220-300 order. The airline first announced its intention to order Airbus jets in late 2021, but the order wasn’t finalized.

At the time, Qantas made a firm commitment for 20 Airbus A321XLRs (Extra Long Range). The carrier also made a firm commitment for 20 Airbus A220-300s. There will be purchase rights for a further 94 aircraft over a 10 year delivery window, which could include other A320neo family aircraft, plus the smaller A220-100.

Tomorrow will be a exciting day as this will be Qantas’ biggest-ever aircraft order when all is said and done. It remains to be seen how exactly this shakes out on Monday.

Meanwhile, Qantas recently announced that it will launch nonstop flights from Sydney to Bengaluru, India and Seoul, South Korea and its subsidiary Jetstar will launch nonstop flight to Seoul.

Featured image by Qantas

Both the other images by Airbus

What do you think of Qantas’ Project Sunrise? Let me know in the comments section below.

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