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.
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.