Should all go according to plan, Qantas will end up offering travellers a choice between four daily flights to London by the time its non-stop Project Sunrise jets take wing.
That’s twice the current number of Kangaroo Route services, with the airline counting on a substantial increase in demand – especially driven by the appeal of those non-stop flights – and fuelled by overseas residents visiting Australia as well as Aussies heading abroad.
Headlining that roster will of course be those direct Sydney-London and Melbourne-London flights, part of the ambitious Project Sunrise from late 2025.
Less is known about the A350’s business class, although early renders of the A350 cabin hint that sliding privacy screens are on the cards for at least some of those 52 business class seats.
Qantas has long maintained that these non-stop flights won’t come at the expense of the traditional stopover route between Sydney and London via Singapore.
Not all passengers want to spend 18 hours on a single flight – many prefer to break their trip, stretch their legs and enjoy a respite at the lounge.
The stopover route is also expected to be less expensive than the direct flights, where tickets will be priced at a premium over standard rates.
Then there’s the long-legged Perth-London flight, which served as a prelude to the east coast Project Sunrise service when launched in March 2018.
In mid-2019, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce told Executive Traveller that the ongoing success of the Perth-London flights guaranteed their survival in the post-Sunrise era.
“What we’re seeing, which is really encouraging, is how well Perth-London is doing, particularly with our passenger traffic… over 75% originates or terminates in Perth for that flight.”
“So what that has shown is that we can do Project Sunrise in addition – we wouldn’t take Perth-London out.”
And this west coast version of the Kangaroo Route – sometimes nicknamed the Quokka Route, after the state’s small but ever-smiling marsupial – will be upgraded from the Boeing 787 to an Airbus A350 in 2026.
While the A350 will have only two more seats from tip to tail, there’ll be a far higher number of seats in both the business and premium economy cabins, along with those swish first class suites, to sate a premium-heavy market.