Qantas changes Project Sunrise seating requirements

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, has announced a change in requirements for the airline’s goal of flying non-stop to London and New York from the east coast of Australia, currently known as Project Sunrise.

A decision will be made within the next year whether to take the Airbus A350-1000 or Boeing 777x to operate the record-breaking flights, which are planned to commence in 2022-2023. Joyce says Airbus and Boeing have both come a long way in developing ideas for their aircraft and are both competing aggressive for the deal.

Initially, Qantas wanted 300 or more passengers to be carried on these flights, however this has changed. No details have been released about specific numbers, but Qantas has said the number of seats required can be less as the flight can still be economically viable. The rest of the details remain the same. Qantas still wants an aircraft that can perform the route efficiently and comfortably.

The 300+ passenger figure has always been firm for the project so it will be interesting to see what happens with their plans to have first, business, premium economy and economy seats inside the chosen aircraft. Discussions with various seat makers are already in place to come up with a deign that suits flights over 20 hours in any class, while remaining light.

Airbus has offered an interesting concept to help battle the long flight, utilizing unused cargo space for facilities such as bunk beds, conference rooms, gyms and leisure areas that are removable. The product will be introduced on the A330 and studies are in place to bring it to the A350. Airlines who have seen the mock-up, including Qantas, have all given positive feedback to Airbus, who say it’s the next big step towards passenger comfort.

Boeing has been quiet about any sort of special cabin for the flights, however has reportedly offered Qantas a longer range variant of the 777-8 to compete with the A350-1000 (possibly ULR).

Providing the price is right and the aircraft can perform a much larger role, the chosen aircraft might also be the replacement for the A380.