Australia’s national carrier has confirmed an order for 12 Airbus A350-1000s to enable non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to cities including New York and London from late 2025. The airline made the announcement Monday (2 May). Codenamed ‘Project Sunrise’, Qantas has also shared preliminary concepts for its A350 cabin of the future that will offer a new level of comfort for all passengers on these direct flights that will cut up to four hours off total travel time compared with one-stop options today.
Qantas also ordered 20 A220s and 20 A321XLRs, according to Airbus. The A220s and A321XLRs were chosen under an evaluation called ‘Project Winton’. The aircraft will be used by the Qantas Group on domestic services across the country, which can extend to over five hours. The A220 and A321XLR fleets will both be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines. This agreement is in addition to the existing order for 109 A320neo Family aircraft, which includes the A321XLR for the Qantas Group low-cost subsidiary Jetstar.
Customers onboard Qantas’ new fleet of A350 aircraft will be treated to luxurious First Class suites with a separate bed, recliner lounge chair and personal wardrobe; a next-generation Business suite; a new Premium Economy seat pitched at 40 inches, a new Economy seat pitched at 33 inches; and a dedicated Wellbeing Zone designed for movement, stretching and hydration. It has a total seat count of 238, the lowest compared with any other A350-1000 currently in service.
Global travellers can expect more direct routes to Australia, significantly reduced point-to-point travel time and a flying experience second to none – with a cabin interior and service design influenced by medical and scientific research carried out on three Project Sunrise research flights from New York and London to Sydney in 2019.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “For more than 100 years, Qantas has been at the forefront of transforming the way the world travels, particularly through direct flights. Now, the A350 and Project Sunrise will make almost any city in the world just one flight away from Australia. It’s the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance that has traditionally challenged travel to Australia. Our direct Perth-London flights started in 2017 and showed strong demand for the convenience and time savings from this kind of travel if the product and service is right. Pre-COVID it was the longest route on our network and had the highest customer satisfaction on our network. All signs point to that demand increasing post-COVID.
“The Qantas A350 travel experience will be truly exceptional, particularly across the premium cabins. Our First and Business Class Seats will set a new benchmark for premium long-haul travel,” Joyce said. “The first Project Sunrise flights will be from New York and London, but the aircraft will also be able to operate non-stop flights to Australia from destinations such as Paris and Frankfurt. The Australian national carrier also announced the renewal of its narrow body jets as part of Project Winton with firm orders for 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired. All of these next generation aircraft – through their lower emissions, longer range, less noise and better economics – will improve how people travel around Australia and overseas.”
Project Sunrise key points:
- Will carry 238 passengers across four classes (First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy), with more than 40 percent of the cabin dedicated to premium seating.
- The cabin is specially configured for improved comfort on long flights and includes a Wellbeing Zone in the centre and more spacious seating in Premium Economy and Economy cabins.
- Will be carbon neutral, with all emissions offset.