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 to temporarily close its lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.
This follows a decision by Qantas to operate no scheduled international flights from the end of March until at least the end of May 2020 at the earliest.
Qantas will also close all of its international lounges around the world. This includes Qantas operated lounges in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and in Australia.
A number of Qantas domestic lounges in Australia will also close. Full details are on the Qantas website.
When Qantas does resume international flights, it plans to operate two services a day between London Heathrow and Perth with a Boeing 787 aircraft until the end of September at the earliest.
Given we are approaching a near complete shutdown of international travel from the end of March and disruption is likely to run for many months, this is all of course somewhat academic.
A number of other airlines and third party operators are closing lounges and those who have not yet announced closures are likely to do so.
American Express is closing its Centurion lounges worldwide from Saturday 21 March.
Plaza Premium has also closed, or reduced opening hours at, a number of lounges around the world. Full details are on its website.
It is also now plausible that some airports and terminals will close entirely.
Passengers travelling from London Heathrow Terminal 3 on Oneworld airlines in business and First Class, and eligible members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes, can use the Cathay Pacific business and First Class lounges as an alternative.
Qantas has announced significant network wide changes as part of its response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
These apply to the entire international network of Qantas and its sister airline Jetstar until mid-September 2020.
The overall effect of these changes is to reduce the international flying of Qantas Group by a quarter over the next six months.
At London Heathrow, Qantas will continue to fly to Australia twice daily.
However, Qantas plans to ground 8 of its 14 Airbus A380 aircraft until mid-September. As 2 A380 aircraft are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance, just 2 aircraft will continue to fly.
As such, Qantas will replace its service from Sydney to London Heathrow (Flights QF1 & QF2) with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
It will also be re-routed operating from Sydney to Perth and then non-stop from Perth to London Heathrow.
At the time of publication this is not reflected in Qantas’ online timetables. However, it will apply to Sydney – London from 20 April 2020. It should apply to London – Sydney a couple of days’ later.
This will operate in additional to Qantas existing non-stop service between London Heathrow and Perth (Flights QF9 & QF10), meaning that Qantas will fly non-stop from London Heathrow to Perth twice daily.
Whilst Qantas claims the non-stop service to Perth has been well received by passengers, this will disappoint those would prefer a stop-over in Singapore. There is also no First Class cabin on Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
In terms of the broader Qantas network, the most significant changes include Qantas suspending Melbourne – San Francisco and Brisbane – San Francisco from 18 April 2020. The launch of Brisbane – Chicago has also been postponed.
It is no exaggeration that the scope of breadth of the changes, whilst no doubt made sensibly, is unprecedented. A full summary is available from Qantas.
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.
Facilities include a la carte dining, an open kitchen and a cocktail bar. There are also 10 private shower suites with lighting through a faux sky light.
The lounge menus are designed by Neil Perry with whom Qantas has a long-standing partnership, and a sample menu can be viewed here.
Qantas has in recent years opened joint business and First Class lounges outside of Australia. However, there has been a need for increased lounge capacity in Singapore after Qantas reinstated Airbus A380 services from Sydney to London via Singapore.
Whilst Qantas’ global lounge portfolio is relatively small, when it does operate a lounge it does do it extremely well. This lounge looks particularly impressive with effective use of different materials to break up the lounge.
The lounge can be accessed by all passengers of Oneworld airlines flying First Class and Emerald members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes. This includes BA passengers flying First Class to London Heathrow and Sydney and BA Executive Club Gold cardholders flying on Oneworld airlines.
The lounge is open from 14:30 to 00:00 daily. Note the lounge is located away from the current Qantas business class lounge
Qantas has completed a non-stop flight from London Heathrow to Sydney Kingsford Smith airport.
A Qantas Boeing 787-9 aircraft departed London Heathrow at 06:09 GMT / 17:09 AEDT on Thursday 14 November 2019 and arrived in Sydney at 01:28 GMT / 12:28 AEDT on Friday 15 November 2019. The total flight time was 19 hours and 19 minutes. This compares to around 22 hours and 35 minutes for Qantas’ one-stop service from London Heathrow via Singapore.
The Boeing 787, registration VH-ZNJ, named Longreach – a town in Queensland where Qantas traces its origins – bears a special livery to mark the forthcoming Qantas Centenary.
This flight departed with 52 passengers and crew including four operating pilots and six operating cabin crew.
This flight is the second of three test flights Qantas is conducting as part of its research into “Ultra Long Range” flights to Australia.
Qantas has used these test flights, operated by factory fresh Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, to trial service routines and test the impact of ultra long-range flights on passengers and crew. On this particular flight, passengers ate supper shortly after departure from London.
Qantas has announced it is to open a new First Class lounge at Singapore Changi airport.
The airline has operated a joint business and First Class lounge at the airport since 2013. It used to operate separate business and First Class lounges jointly with BA, before the airlines decided to operate separate lounges.
It is to begin work a new First Class lounge in April 2019 and the new lounge is expected to open in late 2019. The new lounge will have seating for 240 customers.
Lounge features will include a cocktail bar, a la carte pre-flight dining and shower rooms. Qantas will work with its long standing chef Neil Perry and designer David Caon to design the lounge.
Qantas will also expand its existing business lounge to increase overall lounge capacity for 800 customers.
This does reverse a trend for Qantas to open joint business and First Class lounges, where it has also done at Hong Kong and London Heathrow Terminal 3.
This news does highlight the importance of Singapore to Qantas. It has this year reinstated flights from London Heathrow to Sydney via Singapore. It has also reinstated a former codeshare with Air France from Singapore to Paris and recently announced a new codeshare with KLM to Amsterdam.
A relatively rare visit to London Heathrow Terminal 3 afforded us the perfect excuse to check out Qantas’ recently opened lounge in London.
At the outset, our review comes with one significant caveat.
Qantas has just two flights from London a day. One at 11:55 and another at 20:45. Alas, we were not flying to Australia so our visit was between these flights. The lounge was virtually empty. Indeed, at times there were more staff than passengers!
Whilst this was a great opportunity to enjoy a very quiet and peaceful lounge in a busy terminal at a very busy airport, we’re unable to judge how effectively it operates at peak times before Qantas flights leave Heathrow.
Also, some services, namely a la carte dining on the ground level, were not on offer at the time of our visit.
The lounge itself is easy to locate. Once you have cleared Fast Track security in Terminal 3 simply walk straight through the passenger waiting area and the lounge entrance is straight ahead. Lounges in Terminal 3 are assigned a letter for signage and navigation purposes. Qantas is Lounge B. The Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and American Airlines lounges are a short distance away. Continue reading “Qantas London Heathrow Lounge Review”
Qantas has officially opened its new lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3. The lounge opens to passengers on Wednesday 29 November 2017.
Designed by Woods Bagot the lounge is split over two levels and features:
– An at seat dining area with a la carte menus
– Hot and cold buffet food
– A marble cocktail bar, overlooked by a brass chandelier
– A separate gin bar
– An all day barista coffee service
– A “Quench” hydration station with tisane, fruit infused water, sparkling water
– Six shower suites
As you can see from the pictures and video below wood and marble feature extensively throughout. Whilst Qantas lounges outside of Australia are relatively few and far between this is a typically high quality addition.
The lounge is open from 8am to 8.30pm daily. Passengers flying business and first class on Oneworld airlines are eligible to enter the lounge as are Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders. Qantas Club members and Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold customers are also eligible.
In a little under six months Qantas will launch direct flights from London Heathrow to Perth. If the route is a success it will herald the start of a new era in aviation with direct flights to Brisbane and Sydney likely to follow.
Preparations for the launch moved a step closer this week as Qantas first Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner arrived in Sydney bearing the name “Great Southern Land”. Whilst Qantas is a little late getting on the Dreamliner bus, the airline is seizing the opportunity to reassert itself in international travel.
Qantas’ Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner will operate on scheduled international flights on Melbourne to Los Angeles from Friday 15 December 2017. London Heathrow to Perth to follow on Sunday 25 March 2018, by which time Qantas will have four Dreamliners in its fleet. As is par the course for new aircraft types, Qantas will operate the Dreamliner on selected domestic flights in Australia for crew training and familiarisation purposes. Continue reading “Qantas readies for non-stop London – Perth flights”