LONDON – Qantas is considering placing an order for the ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350, which could enable the airline to connect Sydney with London, nonstop, by 2022.
According to Reuters, the airline is also looking at Boeing’s 777-8X
The airline’s primary goal appears to connect Australia and the UK with a nonstop flight. Even though it already runs the world’s longest flight—from Perth to London on a Boeing 787-9—the ultimate ambition would be to fly straight from Sydney.
Qantas reported a strong profit of $980 million in 2017, up from $852 million the previous year.
The Airbus A350-900ULR
Qantas has been looking at the Airbus A350-900ULR variant that Singapore Airlines are to launch this year on flights from Singapore to New York.
Qantas has also expressed some interest in a ULR version of the A350-1000. The European planemaker said that this variant is a possibility.
The added perk of operating an A350-1000ULR is a much larger amount of available seats (around 300 passengers), which would include an economy class section. The A350-900ULR operated by Singapore Airlines is equipped with a Business and Premium Economy section only.
How about the Boeing 777-8X?
The 777-8X is also a likely candidate for Qantas. The plane comes with a higher capacity than that of the A350-900ULR.
Alan Joyce confirmed that the carrier was in talks with Boeing but was only seeking details about the weight of the aircraft, which is still months away from entering into production.
Joyce said that he was confident that Boeing could meet challenges within the specific weight recommendations.
“We do believe we are at a stage where the capability for both vehicles is there and is a matter of the financials and working through how the business case works,” he said.
Joyce did also accept that discussions with regulators and pilot unions would be needed to make sure everyone is happy with a London-Sydney flight, due to it being at around 22 hours of flying time.
The initial aim around these direct flights was to suspend the stopovers to Singapore, which they recently changed from Dubai on a basis of convenience.
Overall, it will be interesting to see who Qantas go for. With a fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, it is unclear about favourability in Joyce’s case.
However, the fact that Qantas already operates ultra-long-range flights on a Boeing 787, would suggest that training and type rating commonality with the 777X could tilt the balance in Boeing’s favor.