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.
“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.
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Chris Chamberlin is visiting Toulouse as a guest of Airbus.