Qantas has postponed indefinitely plans to order aircraft capable of flying from London Heathrow to Sydney non-stop.
Project Sunrise was the name given to one of the most hyped aircraft tenders by an airline in history.
After receiving bids from Airbus and Boeing Qantas had selected an ultra long-range variant of the Airbus A350-1000 as its preferred aircraft. Qantas was due to confirm its order with Airbus by the end of April 2020 to secure delivery of aircraft by 2023.
This project has now been postponed indefinitely. That is not to say it won’t ultimately happen. Qantas viewed the ability to operate non-stop flights between Europe and Australia as a significant source of competitive advantage. Its rivals in Asia and the Middle East do not have the traffic rights and European airlines do not have the inclination to operate a small sub-fleet of ultra long-haul aircraft. Like all airlines, Qantas simply doesn’t know how long it will take for demand to recover and what restrictions will be remain on international travel.
Qantas is currently operating an extremely limited domestic and international flight schedule.
Qantas is operating one flight a week from London Heathrow to Melbourne, via Perth, to enable citizens to return home. The airline has also temporarily relocated to London Heathrow Terminal 2.
Qantas has suspended all scheduled international flights (except for New Zealand) until the end of July 2020. When Qantas resumes flights between London Heathrow and Sydney, this is expected to operate via Perth with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.