Qantas has decided against the Airbus A350-900ULR for non-stop flights from Australia to London and New York, and is instead eyeing the larger A350-1000ULR which could carry more passengers on those 18-20 hour treks.
Airbus confirmed plans for an ultra-long range version of its A350-1000 jet in June this year, with Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz telling Australian Business Traveller "we know what we can do with the -900 because that's what is done today with Singapore Airlines, and we (will) also look at what we could do with the -1000."
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce today confirmed that the airline had switched its focus from the A350-900ULR to the stretched A350-1000ULR, although he allowed that Qantas could also order standard A350-900 jets for other shorter routes such as to Asia and North America.
“We do believe we are at a stage where the capability for both vehicles is there and is a matter of the financials and working through how the business case works,” he said.
Qantas is aiming to see the jet chosen for its ambitious Project Sunrise scheme carry around 300 passengers in four classes – first, business, premium economy and economy, with the option to fit bunk beds, lounges, family rooms and relaxation zones in the cargo hold.
The decision as to which of the two long-legged jets would win Qantas' favour – and a highly prestigious order for what would be the world's longest non-stop flights - will be made next year, with the flights slated to start in 2022.