Qantas Project Sunrise: non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York
Qantas hopes to offer direct services by 2020.
Qantas has outlined ambitious plans to offer non-stop services between London, New York and the eastern states of Australia, and hopes it can offer those direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane within three years.
The airline will begin offering direct flights from London to Perth on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner next year, but it isn't feasible to use that aircraft for flights from the east coast. However, Qantas believes that by 2020 it should be feasible for newer aircraft to make the trip, provided the route is carefully planned. That also gives it an opportunity to retire the rest of its ageing 747 fleet.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced the ambition, which Qantas has dubbed "Project Sunrise", at Qantas' annual results presentation. "We want to offer direct flights to Europe not only from Perth but from the eastern states as well," Joyce said. "That's why I'm pleased to announce that Qantas will challenge Boeing and Airbus to deliver an aircraft capable of flying regular direct services like Sydney-London, Brisbane-Paris and Melbourne-New York non-stop with a full payload by 2022. This is a last frontier in global aviation."
How much time would that save? Joyce estimates it could slice four hours off the Sydney-London route. The downside is that means you'd be spending around 20 hours on a plane without getting off, though Joyce was keen to sell the potential benefits: "Removing the need to stop mid-way means your journey is uninterrupted. Less chance for delays on the ground; more time watching movies and sleeping. And a faster trip door to door."
Qantas believes that the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350ULR would almost be capable of doing the job, and an enhanced version of either aircraft might make it possible.
I'm an airline tragic, so I'll undoubtedly give this a try at some point. I don't mind the idea of a 20-hour flight, as long as the timing of meals is predictable so I can plan my sleeping correctly. And while I travel to London more often, the thought of a non-stop flight to New York, eliminating the horror that is LAX, is also a welcome move. The one downside: I bet these won't be the cheapest flights for those routes.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.