Qantas wants four classes, 300+ passengers in ultra-long range jets

Qantas wants four classes, 300+ passengers in ultra-long range jets

Qantas is aiming to have its ultra-long range Project Sunrise jets carry over 300 passengers across four classes, with new seating on the radar from first class to economy and possibly a lounge or bar.

The airline is now working through the configuration of the globe-striding jets which will make the 18-20 hour trek from Sydney and Melbourne to London, New York, Paris and other key destinations.

Speaking to Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the IATA aviation summit in Sydney, Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the airline was "looking at an aircraft configuration... around over (a) 300 passenger seat count for the economics to be in the right place for us," adding that "we're also looking at a four cabin configuration."

That's a lofty target compared to Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350-900ULR – one of the two aircraft competing for the Qantas' Project Sunrise order, up against the Boeing 777X – which will sport a two-class layout of just 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats when it begins non-stop flights to New York and Los Angeles towards the end of 2018.

Airbus has since said that it's considering an ultra-long range version of the larger A350-1000 which could help address Qantas' capacity goals, although Webster stressed that "we’re still moving around on the final numbers... these are all still works in progress (and) no definitive decisions have been made."

New seats for Project Sunrise

What's more certain is that new seats are on the agenda, even towards the back of the bus.

"We’ve recently put out the challenge around premium economy and economy seating in the Sunrise aircraft cabin to see what kind of a step change we can create for our customers," Webster said.

If the globe-striding jets also come with first class, then passengers at the pointy end will also be looking at an all-new design from the circa 2008 Marc Newson suites of Qantas' Airbus A380.

Webster says her team is also "looking at flexibility and different zoning in those aircraft."

Could this includes social spaces such as bars and lounges? “Potentially, yes," she allowed.

"We're looking at all the space within the aircraft and how we use that most effectively. This is about reimagining how ultra-long haul travel will take place."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce highlighted the ides of having sleeping berths, family rooms and other passenger facilities in the cargo hold, which Airbus has formalised into a family of custom-designed 'lower deck modules' which would be interchangeable with a standard cargo container.

Also read: Airbus plans to put sleeping bunks into the cargo hold

"There's some really good ideas coming from Airbus and our team," he told Australian Business Traveller, "so we're bouncing ideas off each other about what you could do with the aircraft. If it doesn’t have the full capability of all-premium seats, is there something else that we could do there?"

Joyce also says the Project Sunrise jets will come with superfast WiFi capable of streaming HD video, using the same high-speed satellite technology as its domestic fleet.

Qantas expects to place its order for what Webster calls "a hub-busting aircraft" in 2019, with flights to London and New York beginning in 2022.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

37 Comments

  • mviy

    mviy

    4 Jun, 2018 11:44 pm

    Any chance of a shower for First Class passengers?
    Member who gave thanks

    rk1

  • moa999

    moa999

    5 Jun, 2018 12:24 am

    I doubt it, to get the range these aircraft need to be very light and the showers or more particularly the water the showers use is not.

    These aircraft are however likely to have substantial underfloor space as for similar reasons they won't be able to carry as much cargo as aircraft on much shorter flights.

    I'd expect to see bar areas and most toilets relocated to this lower deck space, possibly with capsule style beds available to economy pax willing to pay a premium.
    No member give thanks

  • bl812

    bl812

    6 Jun, 2018 03:51 pm

    Sure and a swimming pool too!
    Members who gave thanks

    Zaps1971, konno

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    5 Jun, 2018 03:33 am

    This specification makes the A350-1000 the only real contender with the 787-8. The issue is how to put more fuel tanks in, which they do not have to do with the A359 ULR. How to do that in a cost effective way (without too many changes to landing, gear pumps, wings etc) will be the puzzle airbus are working on.
    No member give thanks

  • Boof

    Boof

    5 Jun, 2018 04:43 am

    The A350ULR has extra tanks compared to the A359 and the new winglets developed for the ULR are being fitted to all A359’s once certified. Plumbing only has to be configured to allow for the triple bogey gear that the -1000 has and that is minor in the scheme of things.

    On the Boeing side it is the 777X not the 787, and especially not the -8 as that model can’t meet the 300+ pax and four class requirements as the 787-8 carries 335pax in JQ config for example.
    No member give thanks

  • Dale

    hakkinen5

    5 Jun, 2018 01:01 pm

    The A359ULR does NOT have extra fuel tanks compared to the regular A359. They utilise more of the unused capacity in the existing tanks.
    No member give thanks

  • Boof

    Boof

    5 Jun, 2018 10:03 pm

    Yes you are correct re the A359ULR and I do apologise. I had my wires crossed with the A321LR which has the additional tank. Lesson is to not be posting at 4:45am in future!
    No member give thanks

  • Eli

    Eli

    5 Jun, 2018 06:47 am

    TORTURE. The gentleman QF truly thinks its ok to put people on flights for 20+ in a small seat smashed in the back. INHUMANE!! Should be illegal. Of course, if the people of Australia and the world do not speak up and say NO, you cannot treat us like animals, he will get away with this, along with others. Speak up and tell Qantas NO!!

    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    5 Jun, 2018 11:04 am

    Eli: We welcome all readers to express their views, but will remind you of AusBT's comment policy which outlines that making personal comments or remarks about others is not acceptable here. Your comment has been edited in line with this policy.
    No member give thanks

  • Dave

    Grannular

    5 Jun, 2018 11:07 am

    People as always are welcome to vote with their feet. If they don't feel like taking these proposed flights, they have a large amount of other options. You are not being forced onto these flights.
    No member give thanks

  • S

    S

    5 Jun, 2018 01:26 pm

    Torture!? Aren’t we getting a little carried away.
    No one is forcing you to fly with them. “Speak up” and don’t fly to Europe.
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    5 Jun, 2018 02:18 pm

    Should be illegal.
    Best thing I've heard all day!
    No member give thanks

  • TZB88

    TZB88

    6 Jun, 2018 03:11 pm

    Mate, you don't have to buy the ticket.
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    5 Jun, 2018 08:58 am

    Please, Qantas, if you go with the 777X, PLEASE don't go for a 3-4-3 config in economy. 20 hour flights would be a living hell and would not get my business.
    Member who gave thanks

    Neil R

  • Dave

    Grannular

    5 Jun, 2018 11:08 am

    From what I have read, standard config will be 3-4-3 in economy. However they will be designing the internal cabin with extra room to still allow 18" wide seats. There won't be any 777X 3-3-3 configs.
    No member give thanks

  • Mrminivee

    Mrminivee

    5 Jun, 2018 12:56 pm

    How is 3-4-3 any different from 3-3-3 from a seat perspective, either way you'll have to climb over 1 person if in the middle, or over 2 if you're at the window.
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    5 Jun, 2018 01:57 pm

    Because in the current 777 configs, a 3-3-3 config usually means an extra inch of shoulder room. Compare VA to Emirates for instance, it makes a huge difference.
    No member give thanks

  • Stm Aus

    stmaus

    5 Jun, 2018 03:47 pm

    777X has a wider internal cabin due to newer tech, thus allowing a decent seat width with 3-4-3. QF will never go back to 3-3-3, but at least it appears the 777X width will preclude 11 across!
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    5 Jun, 2018 02:21 pm

    As long as thy put some colour changing LED's , you'll be fine!
    No member give thanks

  • Peter Konnecke

    konno

    6 Jun, 2018 07:20 pm

    2-4-2 configuration fr me
    No member give thanks

  • Brenton Thevarakam

    whoppersandwich

    5 Jun, 2018 12:15 pm

    Im still hoping someone gets a workable 2-5-2 implemented!
    Member who gave thanks

    hakkinen5

  • Dan

    DanV

    5 Jun, 2018 03:36 pm

    Would hate to be in the middle seat of the 5 seater.
    No member give thanks

  • Ronster

    Ronster

    5 Jun, 2018 02:48 pm

    Okay VIRGIN Australia, Ideal chance for you to start Perth - Cape Town route as you are anyways operating from T2!
    Cape Town route should not impact your alliance with SAA as it is a different route!
    No member give thanks

  • ajstubbs

    ajstubbs

    5 Jun, 2018 04:15 pm

    If QF can genuinely pull off this kind of aircraft - with exercise or social spaces (ie room to move), innovations in seating and new viable routes, I’ll be impressed. I personally don’t mind a stopover but would do ULH in that kind of aircraft. Is it possible? We’ll see.
    No member give thanks

  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    5 Jun, 2018 06:41 pm

    After the "Game changing" 787 PE seat debacle, I will wait for actual launch before I make a judgement
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Brown

    DownSouth

    5 Jun, 2018 09:25 pm

    Without even a bar on 787 I wouldn’t hold my breath for “exercise areas” or the like. Just carn’t see them investing in this space with no track record here.
    No member give thanks

  • PK

    PK

    5 Jun, 2018 10:51 pm

    I often see comments about exercise areas in articles on ultra long haul flights. I would hate to sit sweaty in a cramped seat for the rest of a flight, and would not like the prospect of sitting next to someone else who was aromatic from sweat. If exercise means no more than gentle walking, then ok, but, otherwise, no shower equals no exercise.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    6 Jun, 2018 09:51 am

    I agree completely and suggest this could need to be reframed as a stretching area, with some basic equipment or setup etc similar to what you see at some public bars - just some strategically-placed bars, a wheel and what-not with instructions on how to use them, all designed not to get up a sweat but just to encourage passengers to stretch and move.
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    6 Jun, 2018 12:02 am

    The only reason I would think they might consider a bar would be if weight restrictions would mean that putting seating in that area would be a waste. But of course airlines like to put a spin on things.
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    6 Jun, 2018 04:15 am

    I think the term 'bar' is generous. I suspect not staffed, but self service just like the snack/drink areas on the A380. It reduces requests to staff.
    No member give thanks

  • Heath

    heathcor

    6 Jun, 2018 03:04 pm

    I flew on a 2-5-2 with Korean airlines 10 years back from SYD to Sth Korea... what a nightmare flight... only 1 large screen at the front of economy for their so called entertainment; food shocking and the seats were obviously designed for much smaller people... thankfully I wasn't in the middle...
    No member give thanks

  • Dee Thom

    Dee Thom

    6 Jun, 2018 03:23 pm

    Possibly the use of the underfloor cargo area on the A350-1000 as the toilet area - read cut the line-up - would be a big plus, also a lite exercise area. If the 1000 can go the distance, pax numbers would be ideal for Q.F.
    No member give thanks

  • Dick Harrison

    Dick

    6 Jun, 2018 04:05 pm

    ABSOLUTELY LEGISLATE AGAINST ULTRA LONG HAUL ECONOMY.
    I fully support comment by Eli that Govt should legislate against Economy for such long haul flights. Some people are forced to fly economy by employers, I did over 350,000 km in economy in 2017. Like the vast majority of business travellers, I couldn’t care less about showers and beds in the pointy end. Qantas will make huge savings in not having to stop at an intermediate airport and I believe some of that margin should be pushed back to the consumer in increased leg room, increased recline and vastly decreased health risk. I have no expectation Qantas would look after passenger comfort unless forced. SIA have led the way by eliminating economy from ultra long haul.
    No member give thanks

  • bl812

    bl812

    6 Jun, 2018 04:06 pm

    300 people in 4 class,we believe this when we see it,
    as always SQ is the world leader doing this thing why don't little Alan goes and learn from them???This ceo woman have no idea what she is talking about the weight alone to put 4 classes and all the catering plus fuel just doesn't add up,plus a bar and what else? Family room?maybe a velodrome as well?
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Spasevski

    Zaps1971

    6 Jun, 2018 05:15 pm

    What is the chances that we can get Allan Joyce & his staff to sit in a economy seat from Perth to London, you think he might understand after 63 cramps 500 rotations of the neck and 14573 hand shakes for the pins & needles what economy passengers feel.

    No member give thanks

  • AussieGuest

    AussieGuest

    6 Jun, 2018 06:50 pm

    Will a stretched A380 be able to service ultra long haul? I understand Airbus have have them on the drawing board just waiting for orders. The dumpy dugong is begging to be lengthened, as was the B 737-100.
    No member give thanks

  • Brenton Thevarakam

    whoppersandwich

    6 Jun, 2018 11:54 pm

    A stretched A380 would actually have less range.
    No member give thanks

Guest

22 Jun, 2018 01:54 pm

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