Airbus eyes A350 flights from Australia to Johannesburg, Santiago

By Chris C., October 14 2016
Airbus eyes A350 flights from Australia to Johannesburg, Santiago

Airbus is confident that its A350-900 aircraft could prove the perfect replacement for Qantas’ Boeing 747s on routes from Australia to Johannesburg and Santiago, despite the current restrictions imposed by CASA which favour four-engined jets on those long treks over the ocean.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, the company’s Head of A350 Marketing Marisa Lucas-Ugena notes that “the A350-900 already entered into service with ETOPS capabilities of 370 minutes, and it has been granted by the FAA in the US already.”

This requirement means the aircraft can fly up to 370 minutes, or six hours and 10 minutes, from the nearest landing site, enabling routes to South Africa and South America which currently command aircraft like the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380.

“I don’t see a reason why Australia’s CASA would not go for it, having the endorsement of the FAA and having been proven: part of the world tour we did of the A350-900 before receiving the type certificate included flying from Johannesburg to Melbourne, and then from Melbourne to Santiago.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has previously confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline is seriously considering orders for the A350-900ULR, as it is for the competing Boeing 777-8X.

Read: Qantas considering ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR

“Johannesburg and South America are particularly important markets for us,” Joyce previously noted, “but we have some very, very young 747s which we took in the mid-2000s.”

“We recently put new product on them, and our intention is that those aircraft are going to be in the fleet for some time. There’s no immediate need for us to make a decision for an aircraft replacement in those markets.”

Qantas is also assessing ultra-long-range aircraft to open up non-stop flights between Sydney and New York City.

Also read:

Chris Chamberlin is visiting Toulouse as a guest of Airbus.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 134

As long as casa refuses to relax the etops for twin engine aircraft Qantas will never use twin engine aircraft to Santiago and johannesbry

You're technically correct. That said I'm sure many people here (including yourself) will hope CASA decides to embrace the modern ETOPS age. 

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 134

Hopefully, but personally i feel that CASA are conservative and prefer to maintain the status quo. if they don't change it by the time qantas retires the 747 completely, they may have no choice but to either axe both routes or deploy the A380 on them, which may or may not be economically viable 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 232

I know engines are more reliable than ever but still, when you're 3 hours away from the nearest runway over the freezing Antarctic Ocean it can still be a bit intimidating having only one engine to survive on. But soon we'll only have 2 engine planes so I guess we'll just have to come to terms with that.

Enjoy those fresh baguettes in Toulouse Chris!
I recommend the bakery next to MONOPRIX on Rue d'Alsace Lorraine, on the corner.

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 91

Umm, ETOPS 370 means that you could be six hours away from the nearest airport over the freezing Antarctic Ocean with only one engine.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 132

It's great that you have an understanding of ETOPS. Not sure of your point though. The idea about the awarding such a limit suggests one engine is quite safe for such a journey.

I hope CASA finally accepts what other aviation bodies awards, otherwise by the time QF retires the 747, the Aus to SA route might be no more.

Turkish Airlines - Miles & Smiles

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 263

It'll be like trying to tell the government and road authority to increase speed limits in areas as cars now can break sooner, better and are safer compared to what cars were when speed limits were first placed i.e. on freeways, main roads etc.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1209

In 5 years the 747s will be no more.  It is unlikely SCL or JNB will ever require the A380's capacity and QF don't have enough of them anyway.  Without adopting ETOPs, what does this mean?  QF drop the routes or buy secondhand A346s!!!  At some point CASA will get with the program and accept ETOPS370.  Unless they can offer some knowledge that FAA and EASA have missed, they have no choice.

11 Aug 2015

Total posts 23

There will still be 747s in 5 years time. The article clearly states that a couple of these 747s were brought into the fleet in the mid 2000s so they will be here for some time to come. Both these routes can have the capacity for an A380 on them but you would have to decrease the frequency and buy more aircraft. They won't drop the routes either as Joyce clearly states that these routes are important to Qantas. A new ETOPs will be introduced at some stage in the near future. I think. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 32

It will be all plain sailing until the day comes when one of these A359ULR loses an engine 6 hours away from the nearest airport.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621

@Harry Atkinson:

But technically @ least according to FAA and EASA authorities and their cert requirements, the point is that a 359(Not just 359ULR but any variant actually) can safely continue on the mission or diverting to an approved alternate for as long as 6 more hrs upon single engine failure.

The chance of double engine failure is of course extremely remote by today's propulsion system reliability std.  Statistically, such incident(excluding those cases due to fuel supply issues in which the presence of 3 or more engines are irrelevant) has actually never happened in Rev$ service ever since ETOPS120 was initially established about 3 decades ago.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621


"At some point CASA will get with the program and accept ETOPS370.  Unless they can offer some knowledge that FAA and EASA have missed..."
I read from another aviation forum that 1 of the fundamental reasons why CASA has historically been resistant to adopt  ETOPS std beyond ETOPS207 is that the organization has been dominated by many senior ex-QF pilots.  These folks tend to be ultra-conservative re tech.  They were also 1 of the underlying factors behind QF not committed to any 777 back in the 90s despite QF being actively involved in the design &  development phase of the 777 program.....Boeing invited only 8 airlines to join the development effort and only QF has not ordered any as of today.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

The last (six I think) 747s were bought in 2002 and 2003 and as QF keeps these for around 20 years or more, they may be around a little bit longer than five years.  The A359ULR makes a lot of sense as it has more seats than the 789 and has longer legs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 475

I agree Patrick. I think we'll see the 747's in the fleet for around 10 years unless Qantas gets a red hot deal from either Airbus or Boeing. 

I'd have to check but from memory Qantas wrote down the book value of most of its 747 fleet during their annus horribilis in 13/14 so from a financial perspective they 'should' be a low cost type to keep using...

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621


" A359ULR makes a lot of sense as it has more seats than the 789..."
Technically it doesn't.

Part of 359ULR's extra range capability over the 359 is due to the significantly reduced max payload in return for more fuel load(Nothing to do with tank size).  Such reduction is achieved thru a config with an unusually low cabin density.  Airbus nominal config has the 359 carrying 300+ pax & bags.  For the 359ULR cabin config, both Airbus & SQ planned to carry fewer pax than the 359....far far fewer....expected to be around 180-200 pax & bags with zero Rev$ cargo in the belly envisioned.  In contrast, a 789 carries 290pax+bags in Boeing nominal cabin config.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621


Come to think of it....if more seats and longer legs for an ULR type do drive the fleet selection for QF(e.g. like your comparison of 359ULR vs 789), then the 778 which AJ is also interested as a suitable ULR type candidate should win the QF contest by your logic.

778 has similar range as a 359ULR but its configured in normal cabin density....about 350seats but still far less than a 380.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Not to mention LAN who has operated SCL-AKL-SYD since April 2015 - so over 500 return flights using 788 and 789

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 475

Good point Moa but I'm pretty sure the LAN flights fly via AKL so as to ensure they can make Pape' an alternate. 


28 Jul 2013

Total posts 29

We are currently in SA, and having used QF 63 2 - 3 times a year since 2001, see very little difference in the 747 400 we flew on last week. No comparison with the 380s or 777s used on other routes. But the bubble does have those window bins which I love. Everything to hand for this old fart. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 465

QF would have their eye on the VA + SA competition.  SA are also yet to commit to replacement aircraft for their long haul routes including JNB - PER, but also expected to be a 350 or 777 type in the early 2020s.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 621

@GregXL:"SA are also yet to commit to replacement aircraft for their long haul routes including JNB - PER, but also expected to be a 350 or 777 type in the early 2020s."
Will be an issue only if we expect SA, as a company, will survive till 2020.

Fleet decision must be the last thing on the minds of SA mgmt team right now....

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Nov 2014

Total posts 32

The big question is will we ever see a Australia - Europe direct flight in the next 10 years!

08 Mar 2013

Total posts 28

Cool! Might see the A350 in Canberra in the future!

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