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Qantas Group announced major aircraft order to shape its future

The Qantas Group has announced several major fleet decisions that will reshape its international and domestic networks over the next decade and beyond.

These decisions will also improve journeys for millions of people every year, and create over 1,000 jobs as well as many career progression opportunities at the national carrier.

Project Winton

Domestically, Qantas will start the renewal of its narrow body jets as part of ‘Project Winton’ with firm orders for twenty Airbus A321XLRs and twenty A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired.

The first of these aircraft will start to arrive in late 2023, with the order including purchase right options for another 94 aircraft for delivery through to at least 2034.

Project Sunrise

Internationally, twelve Airbus A350-1000s will be ordered to operate non-stop ‘Project Sunrise’ flights from Australia to other cities including New York and London.

These aircraft will feature market-leading passenger comfort in each travel class with services scheduled to start by the end of calendar 2025 from Sydney.

Major aircraft order:
Airbus A350-1000, A321XLR and A220-300 included

All of these next generation aircraft – through their lower emissions, longer range, less noise and better economics – will improve how people travel around Australia and overseas.

Qantas customers can expect more direct routes and therefore less total travel time. They can expect higher levels of cabin comfort. And, particularly on domestic and regional routes, they can expect more choice of flights at different times of day due to different size aircraft for peak and off-peak times.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:

Alan Joyce:
A structurally different company

New types of aircraft make new things possible. That’s what makes today’s announcement so significant for the national carrier and for a country like Australia where air travel is crucial.

Throughout our history, the aircraft we’ve flown have defined the era we’re in.

The 707 introduced the jet age, the 747 democratised travel and the A380 brought a completely new level of comfort.

The A350 and Project Sunrise will make any city just one flight away from Australia. It’s the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance. As you’d expect, the cabin is being specially designed for maximum comfort in all classes for long-haul flying.

The A320s and A220s will become the backbone of our domestic fleet for the next 20 years, helping to keep this country moving. Their range and economics will make new direct routes possible, including serving regional cities better.

These newer aircraft and engines will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent if running on fossil fuels, and significantly better when run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This order brings us closer to our commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Project Sunrise will be carbon neutral from day one.

We have come through the other side of the pandemic a structurally different company. Our domestic market share is higher and the demand for direct international flights is even stronger than it was before COVID. The business case for Project Sunrise has an internal rate of return in the mid-teens.

The Board’s decision to approve what is the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the Qantas Group. Our strategy for these aircraft will see us generate significant benefits for those who make it possible – our people, our customers and our shareholders.

The phasing of this order means it can be funded within our debt range and through earnings, while still leaving room for shareholder returns in line with our financial framework.”

Australia “back on the map” as international travel returns

Qantas flights from eight overseas destinations are touching down in Australia today, bringing the first international tourists in almost two years and an eagerly anticipated boost for the country’s tourism industry.

The Qantas Group will fly more than 14,000 passengers into Australia this week as quarantine and border barriers for international tourists come down.

QF12 from Los Angeles was the first to land at 6.20am and flights from other international destinations including Vancouver, Singapore and London arrive into Sydney throughout the day.

Jetstar’s first unrestricted international flight JQ18 will touch down in Melbourne from Phuket at 10.05am and QF70 from Delhi to Melbourne will arrive at 1.35pm.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said bookings had been strong since the Australian Government announced the country was opening to international visitors, and today’s arrivals will be the first of many.

It’s fair to say we’ve all been waiting a long time to welcome visitors back to Australia. The thousands of international tourists arriving this week and many more over the coming months will help kickstart the tourism industry which has done it tough for the past couple of years.

We’re in this position today thanks to the millions of Australians who rolled up their sleeves to get the jab and give the Australian Government and state and territory governments’ confidence that we can safely reopen to the world.

We can clearly see from the Australian Government’s announcement that people are very keen to come back to Australia, and we continue to see strong bookings out of the US and UK, as well as South Africa and Canada.

Qantas restarted its international network for Australian citizens and visa holders on 1 November 2021, with a number of routes coming online since then.

Qantas to operate “Project Sunrise” research: Direct flights from London and New York to Sydney

Qantas has announced three ultra long-haul research flights to gather new data about inflight passenger and crew health and wellbeing.

The flights form part of planning for Project Sunrise – Qantas’ goal to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

The three flights over three months will use new Boeing 787-9s and re-route their planned delivery flights. Instead of flying empty from Seattle to Australia, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes – London and New York to Sydney.

Each flight will have a maximum of 40 people, including crew, in order to minimise weight and give the necessary fuel range. Carbon emissions from the flights will be fully offset.

People in the cabin – mostly Qantas employees – will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the approximately 19 hour flights. Scientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.

Monash University researchers will work with pilots  to record crew melatonin levels before, during and after the flights.  Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness.  The aim is to establish data to assist in building the optimum work and rest pattern for pilots operating long haul services.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the flights will give medical experts the chance to do real-time research that will translate into health and wellbeing benefits.

Ultra-long haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.
Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.

No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we’ll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We’ll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights.

Qantas has already conducted data on passenger sleep strategies on its direct Perth–London service, and some of these initial findings will be assessed further as part of these dedicated research flights. Customer feedback on food choices, separate stretching and wellbeing zones and entertainment options will also be tested.

Airbus and Boeing have both pitched aircraft (A350 and 777X) to Qantas that are capable of operating Project Sunrise flights with a viable commercial payload. A final decision on Project Sunrise – which depends on aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements – is expected by the end of December 2019.

Global Travel Management Sales Director Paul Baker commented:

This is an exciting innovation from Qantas, an airline we have been working with for many years.  We wish them all the best and look forward to being able to offer London-Sydney non-stop flights to GTM customers from the end of 2019.