Qantas eyes non-stop flights to Chicago and Miami

More 18-20 hour ‘Project Sunrise’ flights are on the horizon.

By David Flynn, September 7 2022
Qantas eyes non-stop flights to Chicago and Miami

London, New York and Paris are the attention-grabbing headliners for Qantas’ ambitious non-stop Project Sunrise flights from Sydney and Melbourne – but more cities are being circled as destinations for the globe-striding Airbus A350-1000 jets.

Frankfurt was the first, with Qantas eyeing a return to the financial capital of not only Germany but Europe.

Now Chicago and Miami have joined the list, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has revealed to London’s The Times.

Cape Town – one of the original contenders for Project Sunrise flights – is also cited, alongside Sao Paulo.

“We’re defeating distance,” Joyce says of the 20+ hour flights, which will swap stopovers for a ‘straight shot’ approach.

Qantas would be in the enviable position of offering the only direct flights between these cites and Australia, giving it a number of prized monopoly routes for travellers keen on not only saving time but avoiding the hassles which stopovers often involve.

While Qantas’ initial order of 12 A350s will quickly be committed to the first Project Sunrise routes from Sydney and Melbourne to London, New York and Paris, the airline is open to a second tranche of jets to not only extend its Project Sunrise reach but also take over some routes flown by the A380, which is expected to be retired by the end of the decade.

Chicago is a notable new Project Sunrise destination because Qantas previously intended to launch non-stop flights between Brisbane and Chicago on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner – indeed, those flights were due to take wing in April 2020, until the arrival of Covid-19 scuppered those plans just weeks out from the inaugural.

In the case of Sydney to London, the A350-1000s – which will be fitted with an extra fuel tank to make the Kangaroo Route in a single mighty leap – will chalk up some 21 hours to cover the 17,000km “since it is against the prevailing winds,” The Times notes.

“With taxi, take-off and landing, passengers will spend the best part of a day on board.”

QF1 – the service is expected to inherit this flagship flight number – “will leave Sydney in the evening and arrive in London the next morning. QF2, from London to Sydney, will leave before lunch and arrive in late afternoon on the following day after 20 hours.”

As previously reported, Qantas intends to retain its Sydney-Singapore-London and Perth-London routes – the later of which will be upgraded from the Boeing 787 to an Airbus A350 – to offer travellers a choice between four daily flights to London.

The Project Sunrise A350s will skew towards premium travellers paying a higher fare, with six first class suites and 52 business class suites fitted with sliding privacy doors, followed by 40 premium economy and just 140 economy seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Aug 2022

Total posts 11

Great to see. These routes will be much preferred for wealthy business people (and more time lacking) travellers so a premium heavy cabin is a great move. I don’t know about flying to São Paulo though, as there is not a huge South American population in Aus and their is not much business presence either. Hopefully their baggage handling and engineering woes will be fixed by then.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 389

I have it on good authority that 80% of passengers and freight on LAN flights from Australia are connecting to/from Brazil, with São Paulo a key destination. I understand those stats are true of the QF flight to Santiago. 

Sao Paulo is a great route. Brazil is increasingly becoming popular for Australian tourists, and there are increasing business and student links between the two countries. Plus, SP is the key hub for travel within Brazil and is also closer than Chile for certain other destinations in South America.  

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 94

As a businessman myself, I will never sit on a plane for more than 15/16 hours. That’s why I like their stop via SIN and the BA flight: modest transit time enough to stretch the feet without the worry of changing aircraft or missing connections 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 252

How are all these destinations being mentioned going to be served with 12 A350s? Majority would not be daily which is an inconvenience to have to suit Qantas schedule then your own. So far I've heard both Mel/Syd to JFK and LHR ontop of the PER 787 flight being replaced by A35p. - that would be 10 aircraft if those routes are with Frankfurt, Paris, Chicago, Miami, Sao Paolo, Cape Town.. I don't this is happening unless another order comes about? Perhaps just like the cargo hold rest areas, it is clever marketing at a time when QF needs it most.

01 Jun 2017

Total posts 14

For QF to do daily SYD and MEL to LHR direct, it only requires 4 aircrafts (A350s). With SYD-JFK another two. There are still 6 left for QF to decide what they going to do with them, whether PER-LHR, FRA, CDG, MIA, CPT, Sao Paulo or Chicago.  

For 2 aircrafts to do a daily route of SYD-LHR return, the timing has to be along the lines of:

QF1:  SYD-LHR   20:00 - 06:30;   QF2:  LHR - SYD  12:00 - 18:00  [A350]

QF9:  MEL-LHR   23:30 - 09:30;   QF2:  LHR - MEL  14:00 - 20:00  [A350]

QF31 via SIN would provide passengers a red-eye experience for a late evening departure from LHR to arrive into SYD in the morning which none of the direct flights are able to do.  Having 2 A350s doing direct and A380 doing this QF31 via SIN, there would be overcapacity arriving in LHR in the morning. Given QF inclined to target different market section, this might be just fine. 

QF31:  SYD-SIN-LHR   16:30 - 22:30 ^ 23:59 - 06:30;   QF32:  LHR-SIN-SYD  21:30 - 18:00 ^ 19:30 - 05:00  [787 or A380 - I would imagine 787 more likely as A380 would be over capacity]

With QF doing MEL-PER-LHR arriving in the morning in LHR, QF would have a total of 4 flights all arriving LHR in the morning with the exception of QF9 perhaps this flight can switch to arrive at 09:30 i.e. a later time like the previous QF9 via DXB or previous QF29 via HKG.  Retaining the return leg of LHR-PER-MEL as the current timing, means 3 out of 4 flights leaving LHR around lunch time arriving late evening which makes the red-eye QF32 an attractive alternative if passengers adamant for a red-eye timing.  

QF13?:  MEL-PER-LHR   15:30 - 17:30 ^ 19:00 - 05:05;   QF14?:  LHR-PER-MEL  13:45 - 13:15 ^ 14:45 - 20:00 [A350]

Re-designing QF14? flight into a red-eye via PER would mean that arriving PER very late in the evening (22:00) which is not the best for passengers getting off in PER.

Let's hope this Brisbane - Chicago service finally gets the "rubber stamp" and gets going sooner rather than later.  Also, an early morning arrival into Chicago as well with this intended Brisbane - Chicago service so it makes it feasible to book through and connect through to onward destinations such as Toronto, Canada and New York etc, etc. 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 153

Once again, QF selling it's marketing hype when it can't organise it's current operation. 12 aircraft can't deliver the route's they are proposing, as far too many variables stand in their way. NZ is even struggling with its new AKL-JFK flights, needing to refuel in Fiji. 

The thought is there but the reality is not. QF are losing ground and market share and are clutching at straws. Lets hope they can turn it around, though it has been years now and it's still flying backwards - and Covid can't be blamed for everything!

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 31

On non-stop flights to those destinations named by AJ, sounds like a thought bubble.  Good in theory but not really though through.

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