Australian carrier Qantas has taken another significant step in Project Sunrise. The goal of the project was to allow for direct flights from Sydney to London. When originally announced, there was no commercial aircraft in the world capable of this route. Achieving this goal was a mammoth undertaking given the first-ever commercial London to Sydney flights took 58 hours and 7 stops. Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus have been jockeying to win this small, but high-profile aircraft order ever since.
The huge advances in technology that arrived with the likes of Boeings 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 airliners further enabled Ultra Long-Haul routes such as Sydney to London.
Qantas already operate a route from London to Perth using a 787 Dreamliner. This flight takes around 17 hours, already making it one of the longest commercial flights in the world. The new route will have a flight time of around 20 hours. To help combat the effects of being in the air so long, Qantas will configure the new aircraft with special well-being areas for exercise and hydration. But despite this, even hardcore travellers will likely find this route to be exhausting albeit more convenient.
Upcoming price wars
The new Sydney route will not launch until at least 2025 when deliveries of the new A350-1000ULR aircraft arrive. But once that happens, there will be an interesting pricing dynamic between Qantas and the three big Middle Eastern carriers – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar. Currently, a huge portion of travellers from Europe uses those three carriers to get to Australia via a stop in the middle east. These carriers won’t roll over and allow Qantas to eat their lunch.
Premium cabin availability
The aircraft cabin configuration is currently unconfirmed, but it will likely be Premium cabin heavy to help make the route profitable for Qantas. However, with this additional daily flight, there is a chance that the Middle Eastern carriers will respond with huge amounts of cheap Business class fares to help avoid losing customers. Due to the exclusivity and cost of the route, it will likely become one of the most expensive points redemptions ever.
The mock-up designs of the new First-Class cabin look extremely inviting featuring a separate bed that’s only been seen on a few other carriers such as Lufthansa and Etihad’s Apartment.
Qantas First Class – Project Sunrise
One of the most important factors with this route is the impact it has on the human body. Being in a pressurised tin can for nearly 20 hours is a tall order. It will be interesting to see whether people prefer a stop which gives them a chance to walk around, get fresh air and then continue travelling or whether the allure of the quicker direct flight will prevail.