Qantas Project Sunrise Nears Reality as Airbus A350-1000 Gets Approval

Ismael Awad-Risk

Airbus A350-1000

Qantas’ Sunrise Project is closer to becoming a reality as the A350-1000 that will operate the route has received approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The design of the rear central tank, which will allow nonstop flights from Australia’s east coast to London or New York, has received approval from authorities, paving the way for the aircraft to enter production.

Speaking at the International Air Transport Association’s Annual General Meeting (IATA AGM) held last week in Dubai, Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson confirmed that the flights – which will be the longest in the world – are set to launch in approximately two years. The company has had an open order for 12 of these special A350s since 2022.

These aircraft will be equipped with additional fuel tanks to make the 22-hour flights possible. The cabin configuration will focus on comfort and spaciousness to reduce passenger fatigue. They will only feature 238 seats: six in first class, 52 in business, 40 in premium economy, and 140 in economy.

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On this matter, Hudson mentioned that Qantas is working with Airbus and expects the first A350 that will fly Project Sunrise routes by mid-2026. “It has passed all certifications, so we are very optimistic about the delivery,” Hudson said. “The project will be a fundamental part of our network.” The airline will likely be the only one operating this type of service.

Australia’s location on the world map seems to justify the investment in a fleet of ultra-long-distance aircraft. In this regard, Cam Wallace, CEO of Qantas International, said that the Perth-London, Perth-Rome, and Melbourne-Dallas routes are among the airline’s best-performing, and the company wants to be “famous for being the leader in ultra-long-distance flights.”

The company is also undertaking a fleet renewal. Internationally, it will receive a dozen 787s and Airbus A350s to replace most of its A330 fleet, along with the Sunrise Project order. Locally, the airline will purchase 28 Airbus A321XLRs and 29 A220-300s for its domestic routes. Additionally, its subsidiary Jetstar has begun receiving its new fleet of 38 A320neos (18 A321LRs and 20 A321XLRs).

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