Qantas to Order Long-Range Planes for Project Sunrise Next Year

(Bloomberg) -- Qantas Airways Ltd. will place an order for ultra long-range planes from Airbus SE or Boeing Co. next year, starting the clock for the two manufacturers to win over the airline.

The planes, which must be able to fly from Sydney to London or New York without a break with a full payload, will be delivered in 2022, Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce told reporters on Monday at the International Air Transport Association’s meeting in Sydney.

Project Sunrise, as the airline calls it, would put Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, New York or Paris within direct reach of Australia’s eastern seaboard, according to Qantas. The airline, started a Perth to London 17-hour service using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner this year.

“All things are on the table as we work through the development phase,” Alison Webster, head of Qantas’s international business, told reporters. Qantas is having “intense and detailed” talks with both planemakers, she said.

Joyce has previously described non-stop flights to New York and London from Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne as the “last frontier” of aviation. Options for making such flights more bearable would include introducing a new four-class structure, with part of the cargo hold utilized for sleeping berths, Joyce has said.

While Airbus is assessing all options, including reducing seat capacity, adding more fuel cells and modifications to engines, Boeing sees potential for Asia to Latin America routes.

Air New Zealand Ltd. could also consider a longer-range version of the A350, Airbus’s chief commercial officer Eric Schulz said in Sydney Sunday. The European planemaker sees demand for between 50 and 100 orders for a longer-range version of the A350 model, Schulz said.

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