Qantas ‘project sunrise’ nonstop from SYD to LHR – a worthwhile investment ?

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  • cwoodward
    Participant

    These non stop flights were announced to start in early 2023 presumably using the A380 or B787 (the airline has no A350s or 777s)
    The service is now announced to start in early 2026 using yet to be delivered A350s purchased for this project. The flight time it seems will be about 21 hours -a long time in an aircraft seat and cost more than the the 1 stop flights offered by the sandpit airlines.

    Should these non-stop flights actually materialise this time seemingly they will take a sizable slice of this market. There remains though the 1 stop flights via Asia say Singapore or Hong Kong (once CX resumes a full schedule) that Qantas intends to make sizable inroads.
    These one stop flights both take about 24 hours -some 3 hours longer than the non stop but both are very attractive places for a stopover or a three hour ‘pit-stop’. Much more-so than are the current middle east middle of the night stops.

    I can understand to a degree the advantages of a non stop but personally I don’t want to sit on an aircraft for over 20 hours and would only do so if absolutely necessary.

    Qantas has invested much into this project if their non-stop 4 year PR is to believed.

    Will the effort be worthwhile ?
    I suspect to some degree that it will but it has taken I suspect taken too long the competitors and would-be players are now well prepared, the market changed (and will change further by 2026) and many will not want to routinely sit on an aircraft for over 20 hours most particularly not for leisure travel.

    Perhaps (as I suspect) the rewards may not finally be worth the huge cost of the investment not least the A350 dedicated fleet needed for this and the long proposed non-stop Sydney to New York route ?

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    Justin Germany
    Participant

    Personally I will still take the one stop option via Singapore because the flight times are great – nighttime take off from London, early morning arrival in Sydney two days later (time difference included). Both one stop and direct flights are super long anyway and I don’t feel a major benefit of say 20 hours versus 21.5 hours.
    Let’s see how the pricing works out and whether Qantas can keep prices similar to the one stop trunk routes through the Middle East or Asia, which have high frequency and larger aircraft.


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Yes, Project Sunrise for Qantas is what Allegris is to Lufthansa. A lot of hype for the past five plus years and not a lot to be seen for it.

    I think the demand for a non stop service from London to Sydney is there although this will likely be very niche. Qantas has already said the non stop service would operate in addition to the one stop service and I would imagine the non-stop would be at a premium. However, with only 140 economy seats to fill I would take a guess that the mullah will be in the premium cabins.

    The issue at the moment is geo politics. There are so many areas of the most efficient routing to London that Qantas will not fly through – Ukraine and now obviously more and more parts of the middle east. I have a feeling that until this more efficient routing can be reinstated Project Sunrise will not happen. Otherwise, it will be a daily issue of capping passenger numbers and leaving bags behind to give the aircraft the legs.

    I returned from a Perth to London non stop a few weeks ago. The flight is scheduled at 17hr45min (so typically around 17hr airborne) however due to having to take an alternative flight path to avoid all the troubled areas and the winds on this alternative flight path we clocked in an airborne time of 18hr4min. And, many customers bags were left behind in Perth to lighten the load, fortunately I only had hand luggage.

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    MrDarwin
    Participant

    Qantas seem heavily invested in this, and I think were buoyed by the success of the Perth-London direct flights to continue the project. The project went on pause during the pandemic but is now going ahead with the specially designed and configured a350s on their way in the next 12-24 months. Pricing will definitely be a premium if the PER-LHR flights are anything to go by, IIRC they said it would be around a 20% premium. As a business Qantas is pretty conservative, so this is a bold step for them.

    I grew up in Melbourne and there would be something truly exciting and special to board a plane at Heathrow with the destination Melbourne on the board, and boarding knowing that when you get off again you’ll be in Tullamarine. However for me personally price is perhaps more important than convenience so I’m not sure I’d ever stump up the expected premium cost to fly direct – but I do think there’s a big market for the point to point flights.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    cwoodward
    Participant

    I have just realised that the 12 X A350 -1000 aircraft ordered by Qantas will only seat a total of 238 passengers across 4 classes.
    This against a maximum loading of 480 paxs stated by Airbus for the aircraft – 338 seats over Cathays roomy three class layout and BA’s 331 over 4 classes.
    I have doubts that with only 238 seats to sell that the route can be profitable even with the ‘sky – high’ pricing that will be needed. I doubt also that there will be enough traffic prepared to pay to fill the aircraft unless the pricing is only marginally higher than the best 1 stop options.

    Will ‘project sunrise’ ever operate to LHR ? I suspect not.


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Good point cwoodward.

    Of course It wouldn’t just be London. The intention was also to add Paris and Germany (Berlin or Frankfurt).


    jjlasne
    Participant

    Personally, I like the Perth to Paris or vice-versa flights announced by Qantas. I checked them online when they were announced – my nephew resides in Perth and my sister 2 hours south of Paris – and they are already sold out for July.


    jjlasne
    Participant

    Perhaps Qantas does not expect that many passengers on the route? Or they expect to fill up the hold with worthwhile cargo thus paying for the cost of operations?


    LetsFlyNow
    Participant

    I think that QF know the potential of this and i honestly believe that this will be hugely profitable for them.
    Personally i’d be ready to pay a premium for the non-stop flight. Same for the upcoming Turkish non-stop flights to OZ.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    AndrewinHK
    Participant

    With the capital-intensive nature of the project, one suspects Qantas has done the sums and has its business plan. Qantas is in the grand scheme of things a small international carrier, Qantas branded current active widebody fleet is 50 aircraft, they have to be different, and the media coverage they get from Project Sunrise boosts the brand internationally. I would be extremely surprised if LHR and JFK are not the first to see flights, both destinations have always been flagged as the poster child for this project, and I believe LHR still has the global crown of most premium heavy market.


    cwoodward
    Participant

    I would possibly have more confidence that “Qantas have done the sums” had The CEO not been grandstanding dominant Alan Joyce and the board less out of touch and compliant. However as AndrewinHK mentions LHR and JFK are prime destinations and the initiative may work in the short term but only if the 1 stop competitors fail to properly take-on Qantas. What will the ME airlines do ? Cut the prices to the bone I suspect.


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Time will tell.

    QANTAS does tend to be quite conservative so I would imagine they know they are onto a winner with the Project Sunrise flights.

    International long haul flights always get the newsworthy stories but its worth remembering that the big money maker for Qantas and its bread and butter is its domestic operation which is a far bigger business than its international ops.

    I think the A321LR deliveries will be as equally game changing for Qantas’ international flying as the A350’s will.

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    Rferguson2
    Participant

    Just in regards to how some comments regarding how few seats will be on QANTAS’ A350’s.

    JAL have announced the config for their A350’s.

    6F
    54J
    24W
    155Y

    Not far off the QANTAS count.


    cwoodward
    Participant

    From the JAL web site re the A350–900 (not the 1000)
    This appears to be the seating plan . https://www.jal.co.jp/jp/en/aircraft/conf/359.html

    Row 1-2Row 5-19Row 27-61Row
    Seating capacity 12 94 263

    Is there more than one configuration of the JAL A350’s ? -I suspect that there must be.


    Echo3#5
    Participant

    Hmm, long flights ain’t for everyone, mate. One-stop options with cool layovers in Singapore or Hong Kong could be a better bet. Qantas is taking a big gamble with these non-stop flights, but only time will tell if it pays off. Personally, I’d go for the one-stop adventure. But hey, that’s just me! 🤷‍♂️

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