Qantas' non-stop Project Sunrise flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York are still at least three years away, but the airline has already sketched out the shape of the all-new first class suites and business class seats which would cocoon passengers on those 18-20 hour marathons.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has previously confirmed to Executive Traveller that the globe-striding jets – which will be either an Airbus A350-1000 or Boeing 777X – would include first class, unlike the current Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners which top out at business class, with the aim of "redefining" all four travel classes. “It will be the best product we’ve ever put on an aircraft,” Joyce added.
Speaking at this week's Financial Year 2019 report, which saw the airline list an underlying pre-tax profit of $1.3 billion, Joyce revealed that the airline now has "a high-level design of what our cabins would look like."
A fresh take on Qantas first class
This will represent Qantas' first new take on first class since the airline's Airbus A380 made its debut in 2008, although that decade-old design is now undergoing a refresh as part of the A380's mid-life modernisation program which will include a larger HD video panel and more comfortable seat cushioning.
Qantas' is eyeballing a layout which would see the Project Sunrise jets carry over 300 passengers across four classes, from first to economy.
Joyce says that Project Sunrise "is not a foregone conclusion", circling back to the all-important bottom line: "This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up... we’ll be making the final YES-NO decision on Sunrise by the end of this year."
If the answer is "Yes", then the clock will be ticking on having each seat design tested, certified and manufactured in readiness for the first flights in late 2022 or early 2023.
Project Sunrise first class, business class
The Project Sunrise jets are expected to have a relatively small first class cabin – the global airline trend has been towards reducing the number of first class suites, sometimes purely to rationalise against reduced demand and in other instances to increase the physical footprint of each suite.
Meanwhile, the worldwide trend in business class is towards seats with sliding doors – as most notably seen on Qatar Airways' Qsuite, Delta Air Lines' Delta One and British Airways' Club Suite – which would no doubt hold added appeal on what would be the world's longest flights.
The Project Sunrise jets will also come with superfast WiFi capable of streaming HD video, using the same high-speed satellite technology as Qantas' domestic fleet.