Has ‘Project Sunrise’ finally proved to be ‘Project Unwise’ ?

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  • cwoodward
    Participant

    Is the sun setting on Allan Joyce’s vanity “Project Sunrise”?.

    From its inception it was considered by respected industry leaders as being very risky at best given its uncertain time lines. Recent developments or lack of them seem increasingly likely to render their judgement correct.

    Certainly there are dark clouds building with a wash-out increasingly possible.
    .
    Delays from both Airbus and Rolls Royce are lengthening almost by the month and many believe Qantas is now unlikely to get ‘sunrise of off the ground until 2029 -if at all.
    By which time the sun will almost certainly have well and truly set on the project.

    There have been for some months persistent and increasing detailed industry rumours that Airbus has ongoing difficulties with the design and positioning of the additional fuel tanks needed for the ULR model.
    Some are saying even that that the project may be postponed indefinitely in favour of other urgent model developments. Certainly it has become difficult locate any news or updates from Airbus re this model in the past few months.

    An additional difficulty is that Rolls Royce recently announced also a further delay to “at least 2026” the availability of the Trent engine variant needed for the Qantas ULR aircraft.

    The A350-XWB ULR aircraft variant has not yet been seen final design by Airbus or of course any certification and this now will be a couple of years away at best. It follows that given the size of the Airbus back order book it would be reasonable to assume the aircraft is now unlikely to be built until at best 2028/9 year – if at all.

    The Qantas ULR order is small, and unlikely to develop into big business for Airbus thus it would be understandable given the difficulties, the size of there back-order book and other urgent mainstream model developments if the maker chose to close this project, pay Qantas compensation and address the several lower hanging fruits that are likely to develop into substantial business.


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Thanks for the analysis cwoodward.

    One point I would add is the ability to retain a reliable non-stop routing between Australia and Europe.

    I well remember the first Gulf war of 1990 and the problems it caused with aviation between Europe and the Far East.

    Only when Russia opened its airspace to more airlines to overfly (just before the end of that war) did the situation ease.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Rferguson2
    Participant

    I think it will happen.

    To be fair the obstacles that have occurred so far have been outside QANTAS’ control. COVID, aircraft delivery delays, wars popping up along the most direct flight routing.

    I don’t however think these will negate the original projections Qantas had for the flight being successful. At the end of the day Qantas is at a unique competitive advantage having a plethora of onward destinations from Sydney as well as good BA Oneworld feed at the LHR end. For many of these cities (especially regional centres in Australia that the ME3 do not serve) it will offer their first one stop flight option to the UK.

    If the flight was launching with a A380 number of seats I would be a little worried about the proposal but given the low overall seat count for an A350 and the premium heavy config I wouldn’t imagine they will have any problems filling them. Especially having observed absolutely choca bloc loads on the existing services (and eye watering fares).

    Qantas may being having a bit of a PR crisis in Australia with the flying public at the moment but to corporate Australia they are still #1 and most of those valuable corporate contracts are still with Qantas. It’s a little bit like the BA situation in the UK really – QANTAS keeps their customers tied by two main means, the loyalty program which almost half the adult Australian population are a member of and the hold on corporate Australia.

    In fairness, we may not see these flights to 2029. But I think they will happen. Eventually. 🙂

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    cwoodward
    Participant

    Rf2 Your thoughts may very well prove to be correct and most here would I believe agree with them.

    However the project in its present form is totally reliant on Airbus building the ULH variant and it being certified – which is not at this time by any measure a given.

    Will the project still be relevant in five years is also some believe in question – this is a very long time frame in the airline industry and Qantas competitors (and perhaps Boeing) will not be sitting on there hands waiting for chunks of their business to be swallowed up by a competitor.

    Given that the time frame has blown-out so much, that the success of the project (even on the original time frame) was never assured plus the uncertainties surrounding the ULH,s development there must be an increasingly compelling case for all concerned to fold the project while a Qantas decision to cancel “a risky project” can still be placed at Allan Joyce’s door.

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    Rferguson2
    Participant

    I think Qantas is generally pretty conservative and the project would have been deemed an almost certain winner from a ££$$ POV.

    Sure, there will always be a risk with any new launch. But that has to be weighed against the potential benefits. And the HUGE benefit that Qantas has identified is that NO ONE else will be offering what they are – a non stop flight from Europe/East Coast USA to the East Coast of Australia. For once, Emirates or Qatar or Delta won’t be able to swoop in and scoop up some of the customers that are deliberately seeking this route out.

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    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Airbus A350-1000 ULH is the aircraft which Qantas will roster for ‘Project Sunrise.’

    Now there is going to be a delay, possibly six months, in delivering the first aircraft to Qantas.

    I say “six months” but delivery dates are known to slip.

    https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/airbus-says-qantas-a350-1000-delivery-delays-due-need-redesign-fuel-tank-2024-02-22/


    superchris
    Participant

    You can understand Qantas persevering with this – make this work and they have a huge USP on a very lucrative route and can charge a premium accordingly.

    Accept they have to fly indirect, and they have to compete on price and service versus the Gulfies.


    cwoodward
    Participant

    The project was a huge vanity play by ex CEO Alan Joyce and many including myself believe it to be an unwise, unnecessary and.
    unworkable one at least to Europe.
    However to abandon the project entirely now after so many years of hype an the aircraft ordered may be an equally damaging climb down if/when the project to Europe is abandoned “sunrise” has two legs and the US leg to the project according to many has a better chance of success.

    I disagree that the ME ( who piles on capacity while the Asian airlines were sid-lined by the pandemic) airlines are the main competition to Europe as most would rather not spend a sleepless night camped at a ME airport preferring as they increasing do now to take on of the 30 or so daily Cathay or Singapore airlines (or Thai JAL Korean etc) one stop daytime connecting flights from their home state via pleasant and compelling Asian cities to Europe or as do many break the journey the journey in Asia for a few days.
    The non stop time saving is perhaps 15% the cost difference a huge negative ,the discomfort of a 20 hour economy flight incalculable and given that for most it means still 2 flights (one from home to there home to the Australian departure point)
    – I ask WHY ?


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Non stop means a lot more to certain demographics than simply saving a bit of time off their schedule.

    Some people do not want to change planes. Some people do not want to deal with the possibility of a missed connection and 9/12/24 hours hanging about Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong or Doha. Many would pay a premium to just get on one plane and get off again when they land in Sydney. As I have mentioned in a previous post having flown London – Perth quite a few times on the non stop Qantas flight the people it appears to are obvious. Business people, the elderly, the less mobile and families travelling with children.

    Even on the ‘direct’ Qantas A380 service via SIN (or indeed the BA service) you still need to get off in Singapore, take all your belongings with you, go through security again. I welcome the moving about! 82 year old Wilma might not.

    London/New York – Sydney isn’t something that has just been talked about since AJ’s arrival, Qantas has been stating it as an ambition for decades now…’when an aircraft that will allow it finally comes along’. And it (almost) has.

    London to Sydney has a HUGE amount of point to point traffic and its premium cabins are consistently full. I am confident that they will manage to fill their A350’s at a profit, especially given they will be configured 6/52/40/140.

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    cwoodward
    Participant

    Some people yes agreed, no question – but how many Rf2 ? Sydney to London that is
    Of course I don’t know the figure but I suspect that by belief is much less than is yours – however time as always time will tell.
    That is if Qantas hold there nerve.


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    I would say gauging by the success of the non stop LHR – Perth flights which are consistently packed to the rafters and achieving excellent yields chances are pretty good for a non stop to Sydney which would only be another few hours on top.

    The PER flight is operated by a 787 which is fine but hasn’t been configured in any special way for ULH flying. Economy and business is exactly the same as you will find on a 787 or indeed A380 route from Australia to Asia. Given that the A350 is having completely new cabins to help with the ‘ultra ULTRA long haul’ (if that is a thing lol) I think it will be a success and Qantas will have little problems filling these flights at a load factor that will be profitable.

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    cwoodward
    Participant

    I have no first hand knowledge but I understand from reading AU media reports that the ex Perth fight no longer runs full and has not for some time. Its seems that the loadings are now in the 80 something percent at best and as low as 67%.

    The following report on an economy flight on the route is frankly enough to make most look for an alternative…..any alternative…..

    Sore bums and boredom: What that Qantas flight was like in economy

    https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/flights/sore-bums-and-boredom-what-that-qantas-flight-was-like-in-economy/news-story/0e0b130ebce619248bd8fe08cf81a3c7?utm_source=SEM&utm_medium=PPC_SEM&utm_campaign={campaign}&gad_source=1&gclid=Cj0KCQiAxOauBhCaARIsAEbUSQTMixjLuLTM_x6a2UAKNOgehh-So3pKRxgLj16to9x4Z7VP5kFA-PEaAgD4EALw_wcB

    “In total darkness for the entire journey, the route is not only the UK’s longest, but also holds the depressing honour of being the world’s longest flight without daylight. One thing that’s light on board is the food, which began three hours in with a bread roll, chicken with rice and veg, followed by a mango and passionfruit panna cotta.
    Incredibly, for the launch of such a mammoth route, Qantas’ shiny new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner doesn’t offer Wi-Fi — although they promise it’s coming.”


    Stuart
    Participant

    The Perth -London flight is full because Qantas use Perth as a hub from other towns and cities and as for ME hubs you can get through them with a 2hour stopover and with Emirates or Qatar you can also go onto other UK airports without having to go through Heathrow so most people from Australia can get to other places with only 1 stopover, at the moment for me to fly to Manchester on Qantas involves 3 flights and a time of 27-28 hrs whereas via Middle East 23-24 hrs


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    I have taken the PER – LHR non stop flight four times in the past six months. Business Class and Premium Economy has been consistently full with the only empty seats I have seen in these cabins taped with ‘not to be occupied’.

    Talking to the crew on board they say these flights are consistently rammed. However, during the winter Qantas has to keep around 30 Y seats empty for weight restriction reasons.

    In terms of the review – everyone has their opinion on a product and a product isn’t going to be for anyone. I have had the misfortune of flying in economy once on this service and the meal offerings are
    – after take off drinks served with snacks. Followed by a main meal (choice of three). Then ice cream.
    – Around half way through the flight another hot snack is served (it was a choice of a trio of hot pies and something else)
    – just shy of three hours before landing full hot breakfast (choice of two options)
    – outside these times plenty of snacks in the galley.
    I could find one review of a passenger raving about SQ’s service and another finding it robotic. It is down to what motivates an individual to seek out a certain product, or in this case, routing. And I imagine that’s why with Project Sunrise it is very much a niche product as it will not appeal to everyone, but I think it will appeal to enough to make it a success.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    SimonS1
    Participant

    Whenever I hear the words ‘Alan Joyce’ I think immediately of the face pie episode.

    3 users thanked author for this post.
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