Australian airline Qantas confirmed on Monday that it has placed an order for 12 Airbus A350-1000s to be used for the airline’s “Project Sunrise” ultra-long-haul flights. Delayed from the planned start date of 2023 by COVID-19, the project’s nonstop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to destinations such as London and New York are now scheduled to begin in 2025. Qantas selected the A350 in December 2019 after also considering Boeing’s 777X.
“New types of aircraft make new things possible,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “That’s what makes today’s announcement so significant for the national carrier and for a country like Australia where air travel is crucial. The A350 and Project Sunrise will make any city just one flight away from Australia.”
In preparation for its new routes, Qantas conducted a series of research flights using lightly loaded Boeing 787-9s to gather data on passenger and crew health during ultra-long-haul trips. The airline says its Project Sunrise aircraft will carry 238 passengers across four classes and include a “Wellbeing Zone,” which will feature space for stretching and a self-serve snack station. In addition to the A350-1000s, Qantas ordered 20 A220s and 20 A321XLRs.