It’s been known for a while that Qantas wants to fly directly from Sydney to London by 2022, with this being the main objective of the so called “Project Sunrise”, that entails connecting the two respective cities' continents, with direct flights.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has stated that this would be “the final frontier in aviation”, rising up the stakes and taking on the challenge of ultra-long-haul travel. Mr. Joyce has since challenged both Airbus and Boeing to take on this new project, and both manufacturers seem to have been taking it quite seriously.
Currently, the first route of this ultra-long-haul market, Perth to London, is served by Qantas’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and even though this route has been an extreme success, the 787 isn’t capable of preforming the Sydney to London or Sydney to New York routes with a full payload, so a new more efficient aircraft is required.
The two manufacturers have both put forward a proposition for the airline, with Boeing proposing the new 777X and Airbus developing the A350ULR, which is currently already operating the world’s longest route. Airbus, in an interview with SkyNews, described this challenge as “a bit like the space race”. Qantas has announced that it will be confirming an order for the Project Sunrise aircraft by the end of the year.
So, what routes will Qantas be eyeing to fly with this new era? Well, so far we know that Sydney to London and Sydney to New York as well as Melbourne to London and Melbourne to New York are on the airlines priority list, and one can speculate these will be followed by services to the likes of Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Orly or Charles de Gaulle on the European side, and destinations like Orlando International, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Chicago O’Hare in the United States. Other destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town may also be on the radar.
With all this in mind, these flights would span tens of thousands of miles, and around 20 hours of flight time on board. So, what does this mean for the passengers and crew?
Well, the airline has been looking at possible cabin options to make these flights comfortable. Some of these include common areas with exercise and social spaces installed in the cabin so that passengers can stretch and make sure to hold themselves through the 20 hours in the plane. As for the crew, Alan Joyce has stated that Qantas is working alongside regulators to make sure they have the right crew and contracts in order to be able to perform these flights.
All in all, this marks the beginning to an exciting new age for aviation, with the rise of the Ultra-long-haul market, something I will explore further in another article here on AeroNewsX, later this month. What do you think about these flights? Would you rather have a stopover or go 20 hours straight to reach your destination faster?