The Australian flag-carrier QANTAS has rejected the offers from both Boeing and Airbus for its proposed ultra-long-haul routes from the south-eastern centres of Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York.
Sydney to New York is 15500 km and to London fractionally longer at 16520 km. QANTAS’s current longest flight is from the western city of Perth to London, a paltry 14470 km.
The test flights, known collectively as ‘Project Sunrise’ have been conducted successfully from a technical perspective on 787-9 Dreamliners on the routes from London and New York to Sydney, albeit only with 50 passengers. The flights also tested the physiological effects on crew and passengers, again with success.
However at an investor briefing on Tuesday 19th November, the airlines Chief Executive Tino La Spina has sent the manufacturers back to re-consider their offers saying ‘We asked them to go back and re-look at that, to sharpen their pencils, because there was still a gap there. So we’re eagerly awaiting to see what we get back from that.’
Despite the ‘best and final offers’ in August from Boeing for the 777-8X and the A350-1000ULRs from Airbus, La Spina has asked the manufacturers to consider price, guarantees and conditions, since the airline needs to be assured that whatever aircraft is ultimately used it will be ‘future proofed’ for the next 20 years. QANTAS would hope to introduce the routes from 2023, but the engine-related delays on the 777-8x could postpone the project. QANTAS also needs to negotiate a pay deal with pilots.
Singapore’s A350-900ULR. Image; Airbus
The Chief Executive of QANTAS, Alan Joyce has said that if the business case wasn’t sound, with the manufacturer, regulators, and pilots all playing their respective roles—and with the customers expected to pay a 30% premium on the direct flights- the airline would invest the many millions of dollars it anticipates spending into other areas of the business.
‘I have no problem…in saying ‘we gave it a good try, but it didn’t work.” said Joyce.
The airline expects to make a decision by the end of the year.