Airbus woos Qantas with A350-1000 visit, scenic Sydney test flight

By David Flynn, February 2 2018
Airbus woos Qantas with A350-1000 visit, scenic Sydney test flight

Qantas will take part in an invitation-only flight on the Airbus A350-1000 during its visit to Sydney on Monday February 12, in a move that's sure to spark speculation of the advanced jet's role in the airline's future fleet plans.

The 'demonstration flight' will leave Sydney Airport at 12 noon and return at 1.30pm, affording Qantas representatives and members of the media a leisurely 90 minutes cruise above the clouds.

Airbus has also earmarked 7.30am through to 11am that same morning to host Qantas executives, pilots and engineers on walk-through tours of the jet.

Read more: Next-gen Airbus A350-1000 jets into Sydney for two-day visit

While the airline is not known to have expressed specific interest in the A350-1000 model, the smaller but much longer-range A350-900ULR is a contender for planned non-stop flights to London and New York from 2020.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has described that goal as representing "the last frontier" of commercial aviation, with Airbus and Boeing competing for an order of over a dozen ultra-long range jets.

Joyce has previously talked up the Boeing 777-8 for the 18-20 hour flights, which could also head to Rio de Janeiro and Capetown.

“We have to replace the A380s and the Boeing 747-400ERs, so some of these will replace existing aircraft but also allow us to change the network when we the take the aircraft in", Joyce told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of Qantas' first Boeing 787 delivery in Seattle last year.

The Airbus A350-900ULR came about as a result of a campaign by Singapore Airlines which tasked both Airbus and Boeing to propose a jet with the necessary range to resume LA and New York flights.

Airbus achieved this by modifying the standard A350-900 with additional fuel capacity and engineering tweaks, although it also relied on reducing the passenger count to around 170 seats, compared to 253 in SQ's standard A350-900.

Singapore Airlines will rely on the Airbus A350-900ULR to restart non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles in the second half of this year.

Qatar Airways will take delivery of the world's first A350-1000 around the middle of this month, with Cathay Pacific following in April and expected to roster the jet onto the Sydney-Hong Kong route in the second half of 2018.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1111

You would've thought Airbus would've sent the A350 to BNE for VA to look at. They are likely to be looking for a replacement of their 77Ws and A332s in the next 4 years and the A350 would be the obvious Airbus candidate even though the A359 is probably more ideally sized than the A35J.

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 58

VA have no cash, nor public intent at this time for a replacement. Given the aircraft is in Sydney for a few days over the weekend and JB lives in Sydney, I’m sure he will get a look if needed.

Airbus should/would be pushing these to a leasing company if they want to see VA colours on the side of them as that is more likely.


13 Aug 2016

Total posts 67

VA doesn't have the money to order an single A350 at the moment, hardly worth an extra day of the tour.

Makes much more sense for them to head straight onto AKL, to visit NZ. Who are in the market to order an replacement for there 15x 777s.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 227

One would think it would be no problems for VA to get this airframe should they want it. They have stated in he past they desire ONE WB to replace 773/330 the 350 looks the perfect fit.

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 88

VA is barely holding on as a going concern at this point in time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 7

Given VA is still a listed company, that's a pretty irresponsible comment to post online. I know they're not in a position to be ordering new aircraft, but they're also not about to enter administration, as you suggest.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 129

Qantas is the only potential client for Airbus. VA is sorry to say a pretend international airline. A back of the class operation that will never grow and challenge their competition on their own.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 227

NO airline or company for that matter pays upfront with cash for a capital expense that great as you claim. To purchase outright 15 350’s they would lay out $4.0b upfront. Impossible with all the other commitments a company has (such as lounge upgrades).

What does it matter if one company buys and another leases. Different business models different privileges.
All that matter is the Airlines all get to view/like/and order for their respective passengers whatever way suits there company.


07 Jan 2017

Total posts 31

Two of VA's shareholders owning 40%+ are on shaky ground at present so any new wide body aircraft are a pipe dream. Also VA earnings are down 96.4% over the past 12 months.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2013

Total posts 63

ZT, i think you better check those figures of yours. Earnings down 96.4%? I highly doubt that. According to 2017 Annual Report earnings went up from $5.021b to $5.047b. Even the net loss was less than previous year and as far as I know, December figures aren't out yet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 316

Also, a stronger shareholder with 20% in VA also has underperforming subsidiaries to worry about than "extending" their stakes in VA.

Basically the profits of the parent airline of that group is covering much of the operating costs of their subsidiaries.


03 May 2013

Total posts 654

Finally, the aircraft for Qantas. Let's hope AJ has his thinking cap on and cheque book in hand.

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