Post-pandemic, Alan Joyce sees Qantas Project Sunrise as a ray of hope

Project Sunrise and those Airbus A350s remain on the radar, it's just a matter of 'when'.

By David Flynn, June 25 2020
Post-pandemic, Alan Joyce sees Qantas Project Sunrise as a ray of hope

Despite some dark years ahead, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce remains positive, even bullish, on the prospects of the airline's ambitious non-stop Project Sunrise flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London, New York and Paris.

Those 18-20 hour marathons will no doubt be delayed, with Joyce citing the forecast of aviation industry body IATA that "it will take more than three years for global travel to return to 2019 levels" – a timeline which stretches beyond the original mid-2023 inaugural flights.

However, Joyce is confident his sweeping three-year recovery plan will lay the foundations for a restart on Project Sunrise.

"It is my every intent that when we can get Qantas back into flying, when we can turn the business around, that we will be doing Project Sunrise," Joyce affirmed.

Qantas' initial set of likely Airbus A350 Project Sunrise routes.
Qantas' initial set of likely Airbus A350 Project Sunrise routes.

This will include taking on an initial fleet of up to 12 Airbus A350-1000s, which will be fitted with an extra fuel tank in order to tackle these globe-striding routes.

"We've gotten Airbus to agree to continue the terms of the A350 (purchase) to allow us to do Project Sunrise," Joyce said, adding that the airline's investment-grade rating and planned $1.9 billion equity raising provided the "financial strength for us to be able to afford to purchase those aircraft and take that great business opportunity, and that’s all part of setting us up really well for the future."

Before the pandemic struck, Qantas was set to push the button on Project Sunrise, which had been in active development since August 2017, with Joyce reflecting that "right before this crisis hit we were actively recruiting, we were gearing up for Project Sunrise, we were getting ready to buy planes."

Qantas was set to place an order for up to 12 long-range Airbus A350-1000 jets.
Qantas was set to place an order for up to 12 long-range Airbus A350-1000 jets.

The new reality is one in which Joyce doesn't expect international flights to return "in any real size from July next year" – and in the short term, Australians will be jetting non-stop to New Zealand rather than New York.

But Joyce says he still holds "big ambitions for long-haul international flights, which will have even more potential on the other side of this."

The Qantas Airbus A350s were also to mark the debut of new-design first class suites, business class and premium economy seats and even a wider economy seat with a few extra inches of legroom. Qantas previously said it had completed the design of the A350's cabin configuration, with the aim of "redefining" all four travel classes from tip to tail.

It was speculated that Qantas would order a second tranche of A350s to replace its Airbus A380 superjumbos towards the end of the 2020s as the double-decker jets headed for retirement.

Read more: The Qantas Airbus A350 is on hold for now, but not forever

David

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.

05 May 2016

Total posts 590

I would not be surprised if they need to do a further capital raise next year or the year after to help fund this. It depends how long the travel ban lasts and traffic volumes are reduced I guess.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 531

This is the ideal time to launch the concept to safe destinations Malta included, I went flying yesterday morning on a Qantas flight then Virgin on the way home and both airlines had great staff that just were happy to be in the sky.

18 Jun 2020

Total posts 2

Well I flew from Brisbane to Singapore on A330 enroute to London to join QF1/QF2 and never again. They boarded us through business class which looked so outdated.They then handed out iPads which never worked half the time.Joined the A380 and just no comparison.I'll be waiting to see what Emirates has to offer as we fly over quite regularly to see our daughter in London.My daughter has flown the 787 Perth to London a few times and just said its "ok".If your a tourist you arrive at 5am and then have to walk around till 3pm to book into your hotel.The 9pm Emirates flight out of Brisbane is perfect.You land early arvo-----straight to your hotel then go to bed with the poms.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1116

SRB not sure when you flew but they have all been updated in the last couple of years. For me I like the early arrival ( the 787 via Perth is first in so no queues) and good for connections bus or plane, and usually book an early check-in so for each their own.

18 Jun 2020

Total posts 2

Hi Patrickk,

It was September 2018.Last year we just flew to Sydney to connect with QF1.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1116

SRB the last updates were completed early last year so you may have been unlucky. I was lucky enough early this year to get an updated A380. New or updated planes are a pleasant change.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 217

With the global economy in tatters and businesses struggling, what is the feasibility of Project Sunrise at this stage? You would think that with the airline industry struggling as it is, a lot of airlines will be smaller than they are and air fares will be more expensive. It will be difficult for QF to compete unless they drop their airfares and risk running marginal profits. The flights could happen, but I personally don't see them launching until 2025 at least. And that's if things don't get worse than they are now, which is a statement of hope more than anything.


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