Alan Joyce aims to 'redefine’ business, first class on 20 hour flights

By David Flynn , February 21 2019
Alan Joyce aims to 'redefine’ business, first class on 20 hour flights

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce wants to match his ambitious Project Sunrise program for non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York, with equally bullish plans for the seats and suites which will cradle passengers on those marathon 18-20 hour treks.

“It will be the best product we’ve ever put on an aircraft,” Joyce told Australian Business Traveller at the airline’s financial results presentation this morning, which revealed a pre-tax profit of $780 million across July-December 2018 – a $179m dip from the same period last year, albeit one hampered by a $416m (27%) rise in oil prices.

Joyce confirmed that current thinking will see a first class cabin on the globe-striding jets, although he wouldn’t drawn on the size of that cabin – if it would be a modest four suites or represent a more sizeable slice of the pointy end.

“We’re looking at redefining business class, first class, premium economy and economy, and seeing what else we could do with the space on that aircraft,” Joyce expanded, alluding to recent plans to tap under-utilised space in the cabin – and potentially below decks, in what is nominally the cargo hold – for everything from stretch and exercise zones to cafes and railway-style sleeping bunks.

Photos: here's how Airbus plans to put passengers in the cargo hold

Qantas is eyeballing a layout which would see the Project Sunrise jets carry over 300 passengers across four classes, Qantas International CEO Alison Webster told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the mid-2018 IATA aviation summit in Sydney.

At the time, Webster revealed "we've recently put out the challenge around premium economy and economy seating in the Sunrise aircraft cabin to see what kind of a step change we can create for our customers."

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.

Qantas is due to choose between ultra-long range models of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X for the Sunrise fleet by year’s end, with plans to launch the first flights in 2022.

The most optimistic network map shows the Sunrise jets will spear from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the likes of London, Paris, New York, South Africa and South America.

However, Joyce added that the long-legged aircraft could also appear on shorter more conventional routes to Asia and the USA.

“What we have to have is an aircraft that not only can fly Sydney-London and Sydney-New York, and Melbourne-London and Melbourne-New York, but also can be rotated to do Sydney-Hong Kong and Sydney-LA.”

This is said to be driving Qantas towards a full four-cabin configuration “so that means all of the seats have to be usable for those routes,” Joyce qualified.

Joyce confirmed that seasonal weather conditions on the ultra-long range routes mean “there won’t be a full passenger payload year-round on some of these routes, (but) we have those limitations today on certain routes, like Dallas for parts of the year, where we don’t sell all of the seats on the A380. So it’ll be similar to that.”

Also read: Why airlines need to rethink the passenger experience on ultra-long range flights

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2015

Total posts 69

Sounds good, but he did talk up the 787 PE seat the same way and i was rather disapointed.

Like everyone else listening to Mr Joyce now, I’ll believe it when see it.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 712

Unfortunately AJ has become "the boy who cried revolutionary."

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

....and put the airline in the black. Doing that for international is certainly revolutionary and what they did with the 787 certainly a step above some such as United.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 183

More wishful announcements with zero concrete commitments, in regards to these cabin enhancements. Makes great headlines though.

Last ULR aircraft B787 all seats nothing else.
380 refresh - no dramatic common area upgrade or new additions, no chill zones/bar.
The track record doesn’t speak volumes for these extra common area ammenities.
If these aircraft will serve Asia as well as ULH, forget about cargo area common areas, they would be used for cargo as the fuel uplift is dramatically less out to 13hrs sectors.

15 Dec 2017

Total posts 3

Classic Alan Joyce spiel: over-promise, under-deliver.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

I presume you are referring to profitability.

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 69

The last time this was said, we were given the glorious 787 PE seats

DGP
DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 177

And they are still tone deaf to the feedback on the new PE seats legroom.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 321

Sorry to sound cynical, but this is all spin, Alan. Your new economy in the 787 Dreamliner was meant to be "revolutionary". Instead, you went for a 9 across cabin, 32 inch seat pitch and no wifi. Hardly "revolutionary."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

Unfortunately we have seen this article rehashed many times. Let’s see what happens in the year 2022.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 594

2022 Y= 10 abreast 18 width x 32 pitch

W= 8 abreast 19 width x 38 pitch
J= similar staggered layout as current butdifferent seat model to current
F= underwhelming open suite
No bar area
Continued late/cancelled flights due to trying to run flights too close together with no spare capacity to allow for the plane to catch up with the timetable

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Yes, no other airline operating into or out of Australia has teh shocking record of continual delays and far too many cancellations that QF has.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 366

I saw a list published this week of all major world airlines ranked by on time stats during 2018. Qantas was actually the sixth best in the world!

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

But do other airlines have the number of short length flights that Qantas does? Since the standard measurement for a 'late flight' is one that arrives more than 15 minutes late at the destination airport aerobridge or stand (i.e. where passengers get off, not when the plane lands), it's a higher percentage of the journey time for a one hour domestic flight like Sydney to Albury or Perth to Kal than it is for an international flight.


Singapore Airlines, for instance, has short flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, which isn't domestic. At each end are busy airports, SIn and KUL, unlike say ABX which at the outer end of a flight from SYD is not busy.

We need to compare apples with apples, which is hard, but if Qantas was ranked on its on-time performance for its international flights it would be unlikely to be in the top 30.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 495

Qantas aircraft barely have time to be cleaned in between flights! Basic maintenance is abysmal when you look at technical delays. Don't even get me started about A380 delays! Emirates doesn't seem to have anywhrere near the issues with its A380's which Qantas has!?

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 97

I was thinking the same thing... started to read and it’s like déjà vu... anyway my comment is to look at the JL cabins on the 787... they have 2-2-2 J with all aisle access albeit slightly narrower width per seat but it works, although Y+ great leg room with 2-3-2, and 2-4-2 in Y with 34” legroom... i think for a ULR product this should be the aspiration. You can easily charge a premium on this - especially when NYC is in question and you get to avoid LAX immigration! 2-4-2 in Y works best for the ‘standard’ 2 child family. All in 1 row and parents are happy.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2014

Total posts 44

Agree with all of the sentiments raised by others.

Qantas are very good at maintaining their media coverage momentum.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

24 Feb 2016

Total posts 18

And AusBT are all too ready to slurp it up!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 514

In fairness to David and the AUSBT team, what appears above is the reporting of announcements made at yesterday's QF Half Year announcement. There's no "slurp it up" - simply a report (including direct quotes) from various QF identities - Alan Joyce, Alison Webster etc - and I am sure that as future plans evolve for 'Project Sunrise' that there will be the same continuous high level commentary from AUSBT that we are accustomed to.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 104

But this is not even "news". It is just the same old, tired marketing puffery.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2397

Langdonfm, don't confuse a media outlet's reporting of facts with 'endorsement' or anything else for that matter. We put the question about Project Sunrise and first class to Alan at the QF financial briefing to get clarity on the issue of first class for Sunrise, given his previous comments about forecast of reduced passenger loads – Alan affirmed first class for Sunrise, added his take on the Project Sunrise seatscape and also context that the same jets could appear on flights to Hong Kong and Los Angeles. All of that is clearly newsworthy for our target audience. We reported this accordingly and objectively so that you and AusBT's million-plus other readers are clued in to the latest developments on this project.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 92

Don't forget that AusBT was also the first publication to call out the issues with the Qantas Boeing 787 premium economy seat and they have done so at the official launch, from the delivery flight from Seattle and also on hosted commercial B787 flights, which clearly shows the publication is quite balanced when it comes to coverage of Qantas and every other airline for that matter.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 471

My take on this is you should never give a bean counter the keys to the car

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 366

Who's the bean counter? If you mean Joyce, he's not from the finance side of aviation; his background is as an ops planner (and I believe he also holds a pilot's licence).

Direct to Cape Town would be a dream

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 67

As they state the aircraft will have less than 300 they should be able to at least make some more space for everybody. The 777-8 and the A35k both state they can have 360+ in a two class config.


For First and Business, they could add a bar and more toilets. Premium economy should be upgraded to 42" of pitch with its own bar/Lounge.

For Economy, the seats should have at least 33" of pitch (due to the long flight) and maybe a stretching area/refreshment station.

As it still might be tight on adding these extra facilities, they could do what LH did with their A346s and move the economy toilets and some galley to the cargo area as especially with the ultra long haul flights they are unlikely to be using the full cargo area.

mo
mo

22 Dec 2012

Total posts 37

Utilise the cargo areas! Some lightweight aluminium or carbon fibre bed frames would be a licence to print money with minimal impact on fuel consumption. They're not going to be able to take much cargo on a 20 hour flight anyway.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Apr 2016

Total posts 12

Cargo on passenger flights is big bickies . As staff I was kicked off a flight with 8 empty seats .Reason full take off weight due to cargo , Fact

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 92

Well I for one am pleased to see it again confirmed that the Project Sunrise jets will have first class, considering some airlines are dropping first class and SQ doesn't have it for Singapore-New York. But I don't expect too much in the way of radical and revolutionary design if these same jets will also be flying SYD-HKG for example, what you can get away with on an 9 hour flight is very different to a 19 hour flight.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 92

Nothing is confirmed. “Current thinking” which is pr euphemism for “not going to happen” or at the most generous “we reserve the right to change our mind”. How much of the rest of the Qantas BS do you think will actually be on board!

05 May 2016

Total posts 577

Translation: "Our business class seats in the 787 are like mini first-class, and we reckon our new business seats on the Sunrise jets are as good as first class. So our new first class cabin is a smaller cabin of the exact same seats we have in our new business class. There are dedicated Flight Attendants and lavatories just for First Class"


Am I being over cynical or is that what will happen?

Hopefully the first class seats are a significant improvement over what's on the A380 and a big step up from whatever the business class seats are on the Sunrise jets, but I'm not holding my breath.

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 148

The white bunker picture of an offshore prison makes an appearance... again.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 92

“It will be the best product we’ve ever put on an aircraft,” - because he's going to say we've decided to to put a poorer product in? No CEO is ever going to say anything other than this, even if the product is demonstrably worse! I really hope Qantas reward well for the continued publication of this PR drivel.


I note that first class is apparently "current thinking" - that's the beginning of managing expectations!!!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 594

I think the key part of that phrase is it will be the best product "WE'VE" ever put... No mention of what others have put. For a 20hour flight I would expect to at the very least have a QR still suite in J and even then it wouldn't be revolutionary as QR already do it. Their current J seat is perfectly adequate but nothing special on the world stage.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 44

Have we heard from CASA about the whole ETOPS restrictions? I thought the reason we don’t have direct flights on twins to South America and Africa was because CASA demanded quads for flights of that length. Has that changed?


Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a product ‘redefine’ a category and be better than the old - it’s nornally a term used to adjust expectations for an upcoming downgrade.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 712

ETOPS has been replaced by EDTO which does allow twins to cover long overwater distances with a diversion time up to 330 minutes. To qualify for this, the airline has to submit and be audited on a range of plans and quality procedures. LAN has this which is why it can use the 787 between SCL and MEL. I don't believe QF has EDTO 330 as yet though you'd think it should be able to achieve it.

JKH
JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 141

LOL! I love the comments. So refreshing to see that the majority has no confidence in anything AJ says. It’s just more blarney.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Aug 2013

Total posts 5

Just get someone to answer the phone promptly

05 May 2016

Total posts 577

If you have Platinum or above status the phone should be answered promptly. Any less than that and there's likely to be significant wait times.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 366

....but there shouldn't be. That's not good enough for a leading airline.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 134

There continues to be the same information being repeated time and time again with not much new to report.

17 Jun 2016

Total posts 8

What are the months they don't sell the full capacity A380 to Dallas mentioned?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 366

The Australian summer is one of them - you might have noticed the QF8 has had to divert to BNE for a fuel a couple of times in the past week or so.

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 34

Heartened to know I am far from alone in wishing AJ a happy retirement in Ireland. In the meantime, pay for more personnel on the phones! It is becoming ludicrous to hear every. single. day 'We are currently experiencing heavier than usual calls'.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

Not sure why he would retire in Ireland given he is an Australian with an Australian family.

08 Aug 2018

Total posts 2

Thanks AJ but basic business-with lie flat seats would be great on Perth to East Coast flights before we all get excited.

And "Yes', please pay people to answer the phone.

obi
obi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 31

Funny, he didn’t mention the catering! With Mr Perry’s J class dishes already in short supply on the Dreamliner to London due to weight restrictions and QF’s cost-cutting meanness, I wonder what culinary delights AJ is planning to declare ‘best ever catering’ on board these new even longer flights? Let’s hope they don’t have to remove the ovens and introduce paper plates to save weight to make the distance. Anything’s possible! Meanwhile QR rocks!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 104

Maybe the Perry pathetic excuse for a "salad" (a few green leaves) was always because of weight restrictions and we have been unfairly criticising him all these years!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 380

At leas they got rid of that pathetic cafe breakfast.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 104

The more they try to spin the vapourware, the more ridiculous they look.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Feb 2019

Total posts 6

when you cant answer your phone in under an hour, regardless of the time of day (or night), you have bigger problems to sort out.

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 50

When travelling solo for work, in J class, I start getting anxious/cabin fever after about 15 hours. I'd have serious reservations about an 18+ hour flight.

I also have two young kids - I'd be insane to put the family on a flight of that length for a leisure trip. Pretty sure all four of us would cry at least once.
I think these super long haul flights eliminate the family market? I dunno, but I just wouldn't do it.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 495

Yawn. Another hype filled article. Qantas never have or will do anything sophisticated in premium or otherwise. It’s all about shareholders fullstop. Mark my words business and first will be another boring bland simplistic cabin with average unsophisticated service. Leppard never changes its spots.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 92

In fairness to AJ (there's a sentence I thought I may never write) his first responsibility is to Shareholders and to no one else. Pretty much anyone that has a super fund is likely to have Qantas stock. I am in no way a QF fan, but to criticise a CEO for making decisions that benefit his / her shareholders is absurd. Clearly it helps that he has a market in which (in reality) he is running the only really international Australian airline, with all due respect to VA. Look at Alex Cruz at BA, their product is shocking, but they have a monopoly at LHR, the most capacity constrained aviation market in the world. So whilst I agree that most of what AJ says is for consumption by a media that generally treats Qantas benignly, he's only doing his job. I think the comments here, by flyers that have a more reasonable and rounded view of the Qantas business / product, show what the reality as a consumer is like.

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 93

Look, to be fair, but 'redefine' he's referring to Qantas, not the industry. So, we'll probably get a product that is currently in use at SQ, EK, et al, by which time those airlines would have done something better.

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 46

I did a survey on this about 4mths ago and they must have been pretty advanced with plans then as questions included whether PE or Y pax would be prepared to pay surcharges ranging from $200 to $500 for the priveledge of sleeping downstairs for some of the journey...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2017

Total posts 41

The reality is the most revolutionary thing they will implement will be a second choice of champagne in First class. Whilst, QATAR, EK and Singapore will be flying onboard swimming pool, shopping malls and a equestrian ring.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2018

Total posts 4

The only thing Joyce has ever ‘redefined’ was price hikes for a sub-standard product. Fantasyland is nice but I’ll stick with SQ, who have changed the game Singapore to Newark, years before Qantas finally realised what customers wanted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2018

Total posts 4

All good points but I don’t subscribe that he’s “doing a good job”. Profits down again, despite Perth to London economy costing $4k return on economy.

He’s taking the entire Aussie market for a ride

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

Not sure where you found Perth London for 4K. I do Canberra London via Perth for 3K a couple of times a year. Profits aren’t too shabby and a sight better than everybody’s (at least here) favourite EK and SQ who are all down also due to higher fuel prices.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Do management at QF, or other airlines, ever read comments on sites like this, or always ignore any sites that allow comments?



KLM - Flying Blue

05 Feb 2019

Total posts 39

An ultra-long-haul airliner has to offer a comfortable airplane in all cabins


Passengers under the onboard conditions of low cabin pressure and low cabin humidity, for a 20-hour journey, are prone to dehydration, jet-lag, and hypoxia

All aircraft toilets have to be big enough for any passenger use, comfortable, well lit and perfectly ventilated and clean

Onboard any flight there are pregnant women, elderly people, handicapped passengers, children and so on

Reduced seat pitch increases flight stress, muscle pain, and some other unwanted situations


Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

They said this about the increase from 14-17 hours both of which I do and, like very many people, I don’t mind 17 hours, so if need be I might try 20 if only to avoid LA.

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

Yes and Qantaas made the 17-hour economy seats only 17” wide. Diabolical!

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

Any chance 17” wide seats for the 17-hour long haul, could get expanded out to 20” inches wide and some more leg room for the 20- hours??

No Alan?

Economy on a 20 hour flight should illegal.

22 Oct 2014

Total posts 5

The QF media team continue to do an important job for the airline’s business performance and, in spite of QF’s well known operational shortcomings (many listed in the comments herein) the financial results are not bad. So a big “well done” to the media team. Alan now needs to turn his mind to his own leadership role; think about how the QF business performance could really impress us all if he would only ‘deliver’ on his revolutionary plans. Alan, you have the vision and you have the resources; now you just gotta make it happen!! Then we will kneel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 380

Maybe AusBT should get Mr Joyce to respond to all the points made above. Surely that might satisfy many of the writers.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

17 Oct 2017

Total posts 3

I don't see them ever using cargo area for passenger amenities. Cargo produces more revenue than passengers do.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 768

Cargo per sq m is heavier than passengers and they won’t be carrying cargo over those distances.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 495

I'll never pay for premium again unless its on super sale. Cafe standard crap food in J and F, pencil case for an amenity kit, unkept sub par maintained tiny lavs and crew who service pax like they are hosts at a BBQ on the beach on their back deck.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Apr 2016

Total posts 12

Will Qantas go the same way as Singapore Airways and only have business & PE . These two bring in the most money per square foot . The people who won’t pay can still go Qantas via Asia to Europe or west coast then East coast for the states. Yes we know that First can bring in the most cash per SQ ft but these seats tend to attract point upgrades .

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 39

Qantas could never have an Inflight bar, the plane couldn't handle the stampede

after takeoff #drinkingculture

Big hubs are for cut price tickets - direct routes with premium prices is now a thing. QF will use the A380 through Singapore and LA, priced like everyone else, with the new fleet increasing ROI via higher fares.


23 Jul 2017

Total posts 60

Alan Joyce can redefine the expensive ticket priced areas of a plane, but the new economy in the 787 was meant to be "revolutionary". Instead, it went for a 3 x 3 x 3 seating across the cabin. Definitely not revolutionary.

Mr Joyce and members of the management team, which of you has ever travelled in the economy section of the 787? Try it, incognito, in 52E, middle seat, middle division. It'll be a great learning experience. You'll discover a new class of travel - sardine class.


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