(CNN) – Qantas has taken an important step towards launching the Sunrise Project, its long-dreamed goal of creating direct flights between Australia and the cities of New York and London.
The airline has ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000s, with the hope that the ultra-long-haul routes will start operating in 2025.
In total, there will be a total of 238 seats on each aircraft, the fewest of any Airbus A350 aircraft currently in service. These seats are divided into four classes of service – First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class.
Comfort will be essential, as these flights will take over 19 hours, making them the longest non-stop flights in the world.
The aircraft’s interior renderings offer some clues as to what Qantas is planning for passengers on board.
Pictures of the first class cabins show separate beds, lounge chairs, and even lockers.
Meanwhile, the cheapest economy class seat space will be 33 inches, compared to an average of 30-31 inches on most carriers.
The ‘luxury areas’ will use the aircraft’s common areas to store snacks and healthy drinks as well as provide a place for passengers to get up and stretch out.
Dedicated Qantas aircraft will have beds in all First Class cabins.
Dream years in the making
Australia’s national carrier has made no secret of its goal of running direct flights between Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and New York City and London.
Qantas called the scheme the “Sunrise Project”. The name is inspired by the secret World War II flights that were made from Perth to Sri Lanka en route to London. They were risky, and they lasted long until they saw the sunrise.
“For more than 100 years, Qantas has been at the forefront of changing the way the world travels, particularly through direct flights,” said Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, in a statement.
“Now, the A350 and Project Sunrise will bring almost any city in the world just one flight away from Australia. It is the last frontier and the ultimate fix for the tyranny of distance that has traditionally been a challenge to travel to Australia.”
In 2019, the airline conducted a series of test flights on routes from Sydney to New York City and from Sydney to London as a trial.
The health of the crew and passengers on board was monitored during the flight to see how this long flight could affect future flyers. The trackers captured sleep patterns, activity cycles, food and drink consumption, and other data.
Like many travel projects around the world, Sunrise has been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, CEO Richard Quest of CNN told CNN, “Once we’ve finished[the upgrade of the domestic Qantas fleet]which we’ll be doing early in 2022, we’ll revisit Sunrise and it’s likely to be somewhere like 2024 or 2025 for the first plane. Arrive due to delay.”
An onboard ‘wellness area’ will allow passengers access to healthy snacks and fitness videos.
what happened after that
Although Project Sunrise’s first cruise is still a long way off, Qantas has already begun to consider expanding its offerings over very long distances.
The airline confirmed that Paris and Frankfurt are being considered for future direct flights after the establishment of the New York City and London routes.
In 2019, Qantas also listed Brisbane as one of the eastern Australian hubs for these cruises, but it’s unclear if that’s still part of Project Sunrise’s plan.
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