Don’t Fall For The Hype: Qantas Hasn’t Pulled The Trigger On “Project Sunrise”

Qantas announced today that they have selected the Airbus A350-1000 (modified with an additional fuel tank) for ‘Project Sunrise’ ultra long haul flights such as Sydney – New York JFK and Sydney – London.

The news here is that they’ve deferred a decision, not that they are doing anything. And the word that they’ve selected the aircraft only means they’ve tentatively decided not to order the Boeing 777X. It doesn’t mean they’ve ordered ultra long haul planes. And it doesn’t mean they’re going to fly these routes. In fact they’ve said they won’t make any decision until March.

  • They say they intend to order ‘up to’ 12 aircraft. No deal has been agreed to yet, and the Qantas board hasn’t signed off.

  • They still need regulatory approval (not a likely hurdle) and a deal with their pilots to allow them to use Airbus A330 pilots rather than creating a dedicated pilot group.

And although they’ve run ‘test flights’ (that are PR stunts with journalists) they have no product announcements to make. Although reading between the lines we can see there will be few, if any, special amenities resulting from the long distances to be traveled.

Whereas Qantas once talked about children’s play areas, a bar, offices, bunk beds for coach passengers and a gym, now they talk merely about “dedicated space for stretching and movement for Economy passengers” and “actively shift people to their destination timezone” which could just be what meals they serve and when they open window shades.

The only real substance beyond tentatively ruling out Boeing is that there’s no order, is that their CEO says “Airbus has given us an extra month to lock in an aircraft order without impacting our planned start date, which means we can spend more time on hopefully reaching a deal with our pilots.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. ‘They still need regulatory approval (not a likely hurdle)’ – Does this hurdle change if they go with Boeing?

  2. Just because Qantas says they are “operating passenger flights tomorrow” doesn’t mean it’s going to happen as it hasn’t happened yet. So let’s wait to see if flights actually take off as promised.

    I have always agreed with your analysis but I think you are reading too much into this. It sounds like Alan Joyce & Co is planning to “give it a shot”. That’s all it is.

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