Qantas hopes to begin non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Frankfurt as part of Project Sunrise, with the German financial hub joining London and Paris with a direct link to Australia's east coast.
To date the English and French capitals have been the only European destinations listed for the Project Sunrise network, which Qantas this week confirmed would rely on a fleet of extended-range Airbus A350-1000 jetliners.
However, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce tells Executive Traveller that Frankfurt is also on the Sunrise short-list.
Speaking at the official opening of the new Qantas Singapore First Lounge about the airline's broader European strategy, Joyce said one plank of the playbook was "to fly direct, where those direct flights are with Sunrise, and we may only have three destinations we'll ever do that with: London, Paris and Frankfurt."
Joyce has previously alluded to Paris and Frankfurt as potential Boeing 787-9 routes from Perth, joining the current non-stop Dreamliner service to London, but ongoing disputes with Perth Airport have seen those additional flights put on hold.
Speaking with Executive Traveller on the delivery flight of Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 in October 2017, Joyce said that "for the first time we have daily rights for Paris. Last time we were in Paris we only could do three days a week, which made it sub-economical and meant that we weren’t attracting the business market, but now that has changed."
"Germany is still a big market," Joyce added, "and it's been hard for us in the past when we were flying through a hub, so the opportunity there is actually quite real."
Qantas previously ran daily Boeing 747 flights from Sydney to Frankfurt via Singapore, but axed the loss-making route in 2013 as part of the newly-launched Qantas-Emirates alliance, which put several German cities one hop away from Dubai.
At the time, Joyce confirmed that Qantas' Frankfurt service "has been underperforming for some time, and withdrawal was inevitable (but) the partnership with Emirates will enable it to take place with minimal impact on Qantas customers."
“One of the issues we had with the Frankfurt service beyond Singapore was the age of the aircraft," added Simon Hickey, then-CEO of Qantas International. “They’re getting towards the end of their life, and Frankfurt’s been a struggling route for some time."
However, non-stop flights to Frankfurt on the fuel-efficient Airbus A350-1000 could reshape the route's economics in Qantas' favour.
As previously reported by Executive Traveller, the Project Sunrise fleet will carry around 300 passengers in all-new first class suites and business class seats, along with premium economy and economy, the latter of which will also have extra leg-room compared to today's economy seats.