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Qantas has announced it has selected the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft for non-stop “Project Sunrise” flights from London Heathrow to Sydney and other cities in Eastern Australia.
However, Qantas has yet to place a firm order for aircraft.
Following tenders from Airbus and Boeing for Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X aircraft respectively, Qantas selected the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. The aircraft uses the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. Qantas has advised that Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft.
Qantas has agreed with Airbus to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots for aircraft up to March 2020.
Qantas has indicated that it will order up to 12 aircraft which will enter service from the first half of 2023, if Project Sunrise is ultimately given the go ahead by the Qantas Board.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia has given Qantas provisional approval to operate ultra long-haul flights.
The last remaining issue appears to be the negotiation of an industrial agreement with the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA). There are still some differences between Qantas and the AIPA, particularly around productivity and efficiency.
Qantas has confirmed that the fleet of ultra long-haul aircraft will feature newly designed First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.
Qantas has also previously indicated that potential ultra long-haul routes from London include Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Qantas has slots at Heathrow to operate four long-haul services a day, two of which are currently leased to BA.
Other potential ultra long-haul routes cited by Qantas include Sydney to Cape Town, New York and Rio de Janeiro.