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Work has ‘resumed’ on Project Sunrise, says Qantas

written by Hannah Dowling | February 24, 2022

An artist's impression of the Airbus A350-1000 in Qantas livery. (Qantas)
An artist’s impression of the Airbus A350-1000 in Qantas livery. (Qantas)

Qantas has revealed that it has “resumed” work on its Project Sunrise program, after lengthy delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline remained tight-lipped about the specifics, however, CEO Alan Joyce noted that demand for ultra-long-haul, point-to-point flights appears to have increased in light of the pandemic.

“Our latest customer research shows that demand for direct long-haul flights is stronger than it was pre-COVID, so our focus on delivering non-stop services from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London remains,” he said.

The Flying Kangaroo has previously committed to the Airbus A350-1000 as its choice of aircraft for Project Sunrise, however, a firm order has been delayed numerous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the program has been placed on ice.

In March 2020, Qantas agreed to a deal with the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) for its members to fly ultra-long-haul routes.


However, after this point, work on Project Sunrise was put on pause due to the pandemic.

Later, in January 2021, Joyce suggested that work on the suspended program could resume by the end of the year, suggesting at the time that a finalised order on the A350-1000 could be completed.

Then in February, Joyce suggested the suspended plans could resume later this year, with a view to launching direct flights from London to Sydney in 2024.

At this time, Joyce also stated that Qantas, being an Australia-based carrier, is the only airline that could make ultra-long-haul travel to and from the country profitable.

“It is a unique opportunity for Qantas because Australia’s so far away from everywhere,” said Joyce, “And we could justify a fleet size of a significant amount of aircraft that makes it economic.

“We have three major cities on the east coast in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. And having flights to London, Frankfurt, Paris, New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, from those cities, creates a significant sub fleet and economics of scale that we think will work really well.

“So, we’re still very keen on it. And we think that’s one of the big things that will change in the next decade, and allow us to have a substantial competitive advantage that nobody else is probably going to introduce.”

In May, Qantas announced that Sydney would be the launch city for Project Sunrise – though it remains unclear as to whether this means it would also be exclusive to the city, or for how long.

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Comments (7)

  • F Jan


    Eagerly waiting.

  • Paul Blackshaw


    No thanks, I like my stopover in Singapore and Honolulu. Would prefer not looking like a dried up prune after 22 hours in one go.

  • Steve A


    Not from MEL and BNE to LHR you won’t. Remember you sold off your soul to SYD for $50,000 and gave them a five year exclusive on the deal.
    This gives Virgin or REX or Bonza a 5-year exclusive on the non-stop MEL-LHR and BNE-LHR routes. Good luck guys.

    • Jimmie


      The last three airlines you mentioned don’t fly Internationally, & probably never will.
      Virgin’s pulled out from their nearby routes to Pacific islands.

  • Ralph Hamilton


    @Paul B….Book a seat near the dunny, and drinks s—loads of water. But no grog.

    Works wonders….Marum.

  • Rod Pickin


    Like Paul, as above, I have my doubts about the long term viability of these extra long haul voyages, maybe they will appeal to a small segment of the travelling public on urgent family or business needs but in the long term I feel folks will opt for more congenial sectors via say SIN or HNL and DXB and frankly, again from experience, staffing those flights may well be a huge nightmare. In any event, QF needs the A350 now in order to maintain its flexibility and options and unless they get their “A” into gear soon the A360 will be upon us and we will have missed the boat again.

  • Stuart Brown


    The world is shrinking and there’s going to be an economic boom, because of cheap renewable energy, door to door, high frequency metro rail, non stop flights, faster and more reliable internet. New Zealand real estate prices, went up by 30% last year, rents have soared in Tasmania, these flights, connect North East North America, Northern Europe, with Australia, there’s been a lot of Airport upgrading, going on during the pandemic. Note that London’s Elisabeth line opens this year, high frequency, at up to 150km/h, right through the spine 50km, turn up and go, a train every 4 minutes, to Heathrow.

    Sydney’s new Metro opens, at the same time these flights start, with upgrading the Airport rail line, from a train every 15 minutes, to a train every 7+1/2 minutes, to central, where trains from NW, to SW come every 5 minutes. Plus the SE light rail gets passengers to the Moore Park hub, for Randwick and Kingsford, in 5 minutes, from Central; New York’s LaGuardia has been upgraded, with a rail connection. In 2026 Sydney’s second Airport, with a Metro line opens. You won’t notice, but in the background, congestion at the airport will be lower, from London, New York and Sydney, the airport and suburbs will be nearer. Add that to not having to stop somewhere, in the middle of your journey, 5G mobile the moment you get to the airport, you’ll think, why does it seem so much easier, more comfortable, more convenient.

    Because you don’t have to think about train times, you get to and from the airport faster, the airport is less congested, you’re more connected with the rest of the world, Australia is fibre optic cable, to the curb in 2023. You’ll forget how difficult, it was to get to the airport, how expensive the phone calls were, how disconnected with the rest of the world you felt, why am I so fresh, rested. There was so much I could do on my devices, on the flight, I have this strange feeling, as if I’ve barely left, the other side of the world, you’ll think. So many fewer barriers between the hemispheres, then when you get here, or there, there are more connecting flights, Qantas and JetStar have 209 aircraft on order, with Airbus, no interest, probably no money down.

    The Elisabeth line, gets you to the Eurostar faster, without a change, from city centre to city centre, high speed from London, to the Chunnel, to the Paris Metro, also upgrading to turn up and go. On to Italy, via the Gothard tunnel city centre, to city centre. Back here, in our region, Asia, high speed rail has arrived from China, to Laos, last December, China opened 12 Metro lines, turn up and go. The world is shrinking, I know, I live in the high country of Northern Tasmania, I get 3/4 of a gigabyte per second internet, on my Wi-Fi, I go to Sydney, to see a new light rail line and Canberra to see a new light rail line. When these airliners are operating, there’ll be new metro’s in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane; Airport rail, in Perth and Melbourne, last time I was on the mainland, I saw new light rail, in Sydney, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

    A lot has been going on in the last few years, India’s dedicated electric freight rail line, opens this year, 5 times the capacity, nearly 3 times the speed, Indonesia’s high speed rail line opens this year, we’ve had expansions, of the Suez and Panama Canals. New interstate, intercity trains, the inland freight rail line, in Australia, Sydney rail went carbon neutral, Sydney’s passenger rail capacity, will double in the next decade Metro, light rail, sensors, communications, networking. Tyrany of distance, where have you gone old friend, say you’ve knocked off for a smoko and you’ll be back, said I, part of the problem, son of a jumbo captain, migrant, trans migrant, trained network administrator.

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