Qantas CEO Alan Joyce today unveiled a plan to fly from Sydney to London without stopping by 2022.
“This is a last frontier in global aviation,” he said when releasing the airline’s annual results. “The antidote to the tyranny of distance. And a revolution for air travel in Australia.”
Qantas will challenge Boeing and Airbus to deliver an aircraft capable of flying regular direct services Sydney-London, Brisbane-Paris and Melbourne-New York non-stop with a full payload by 2022.
“A direct flight would cut up to four hours of travel time off a journey to London,” Joyce said.
“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.”
Joyce said he had written to the CEOs of Boeing and Airbus.
Both manufacturers are developing aircraft that can almost do the job, the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350ULR.
“We believe advances in the next few years will close the gap, and Qantas has the unique operational experience to be the airline that helps make it happen,” says Joyce.
“This would be one of the most strategically important aircraft orders in the history of Qantas. But there is a lot of work to scope this fully. And we’re calling it Project Sunrise — a nod to the legendary Double Sunrise flights operated by Qantas across the Indian Ocean during World War II.
“They remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises in what was an incredible feat of endurance given the technology of the day.
“This is the kind of pioneering spirit that the national carrier is built on. And it’s the kind of spirit that we want to take us forward.”
Qantas starts a non-stop Perth to London flight in March next year, a 17-hour daily flight on the new Boeing 787-Dreamliner.