a white airplane flying in the sky

It’s been a few interesting months for Qantas, as the airline looks to push the boundaries of ultra long haul flight. The airline successfully completed two test flights between New York, London and Sydney, proving that “the impossible” is indeed possible, albeit quite challenging when it comes to getting enough people and cargo on board to make such a flight profitable.

Boeing and Airbus each tendered an offer to provide the best aircraft for the job, and in a plot twist, Qantas recently pushed back saying that neither had presented a strong enough case. Qantas has now gone back on that, choosing the Airbus A350-1000 as the potential winner, but there’s one thing no one is talking about – Qantas says it still  just might not happen.

a city with a body of waterLike every other blogger, journalist and travel media nerd, I too received the press release stating that Qantas has chosen the Airbus A350-1000 as the potential viable option to service ultra long haul flights between London and Australia, and New York and Australia. It’s exciting stuff, but Qantas is approaching it all with extreme caution, even to the point of declaring the aircraft as the preferred choice, if Sunrise goes ahead.

Basically: a vote won’t take place until March 2020, a time when Qantas’ board will decide on the viability of actually ever launching these ultra-long-haul services. At that time, assuming it’s a go, the airline could then go ahead with placing orders for up to 12 aircraft. That’s wonderful, but that would then mean at best, a substantial lag before the new jets could be certified, modified and fitted for flight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Qantas, I love the concept of connecting the world with more non stop flights than ever, but so much can change in the airline world in six months, let alone two years. It’s just hard to shout from the rooftops about something so hypothetical, given all the variables at play here.

a large white airplane flying in the skyBefore we see a first ever flight, the board needs to vote whether it’s worth pursuing, which is still 4 months off, then orders must be placed, and then test flights must be conducted, and then viable aircraft must be delivered. That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. And then there’s product evolution. Could Airbus deliver a new even more revolutionary aircraft type in that time frame? It’s sure possible. Could Boeing? Also possible.

To make a long story slightly shorter, you can keep your wallet in your pocket, at least for now. If, and that’s a big “if” Qantas ever goes through with the project, it’s still years off. If we see a publicly avail Qantas Project Sunrise flight take flight before the end of 2022, I’ll donate $1000 to the charity of Alan Joyce’s choice, assuming he’s still there in two years. Things just change so fast these days.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Dude everyone knows that if the A350 (Qantas) flights go ahead that it won’t be before 2023 – so you can keep your $1000 but hey you knew that anyway

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