Boeing and Airbus meet Qantas’ Sydney to London dream

August 23, 2018
Rendering 777-9X; 777-8X

The era of the ultra, ultra, long-haul flights is about to dawn with Qantas’ dream of flying from Sydney to London non-stop getting the go-ahead from Boeing and Airbus.

Qantas’ chief Alan Joyce told that both Boeing and Airbus can meet the airline’s challenge of an aircraft capable of flying from New York to Sydney non-stop with 300 passengers.

Boeing is proposing a tweaked version of its Boeing 777-8X while Airbus is pushing a similarly tweaked version of its A350 aircraft that Singapore Airlines has ordered.

What is not clear is how much each aircraft beats the 300 passengers mark and what the economics will be.

READ: Boeing’s giant Everett complex just got bigger 

“Both will be bit different but will have enough seats to make it economical,” said Mr. Joyce

However, according to Mr. Joyce, the Airbus A350 is “more adaptable” being lighter for routes to Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

However, in the longer term, the 777-9X would be a better A380 replacement analyst suggest so commonality becomes an issue.

Qantas' ultra-lomg haul mission
Airbus A350-900ULR will be delivered to Singapore Airlines in October for its Singapore to New York non-stop.

“Our teams are working the pros and cons which gives us the best overhaul business case.”

Mr. Joyce added however that both Airbus and Boeing keep “coming back with more seats and more capability.”

The A350 or 777-8X would be used on Melbourne and Sydney to London and New York as well as destinations such as Chicago.

“It is a two-horse race and we are telling them there is a lot to play for, said Mr. Joyce.

However, Qantas also has some hurdles to cross with a modified pilot agreement to crew the aircraft. understand that the operation will require an additional set of pilots to a total of 6.

“We are having very constructive dialogue with the pilots on modifying the EBA,” said Mr. Joyce.

There are also regulatory issues that have to be ticked off for the operation.

Mr. Joyce said that an RFP will be issued and he expects that to be completed by end of FY19 with the delivery of the first aircraft in 2022.

Qantas’ enthusiasm for the service is buoyed by the tremendous success of the Perth to London Boeing 787 non-stop which is achieving an incredible 92 percent load factor and 95 percent in premium classes.





  1. I do not see where you state the number of pax on each plane Q uses. I recall reading somewhere it is 200, far fewer than the 789's notional mixed class seating of 290. The real question is what does it actually cost Q to fly Perth/London, and what is their real profit, if any, with such a small pax load? Is Joyce saying that the route will only support 200 pax? It will be interesting to see how BA and AB approach the ultra long haul routes Q wants to serve. My guess is they will be niche routes because there will be so few of them, so the market for ULH planes will be be small; eg. Emirates has ordered only 35 777x-8s but 150 of the larger shorter-ranged 777-9xs. Also, I think Q is unique its need for ULR planes because eastern Australia is much farther from USA and European destinations than its long haul competitors. Lastly re ULR, who wants to stay in a plane for 18-20 hours? Willie Walsh at BA recently said he'd rather break the trip to Australia with a stop in Singapore which time wise is far shorter than London/Europe to Melbourne.
  2. The story is about the 777X and the story states that Qantas wants 300 seats. The 787-9 operation is 236 seats and insiders tells us it is the airline's most profitable route. The 787-9 in a 236 seat config burns 34% less fuel per passenger than the 494-seat A380 in a Qantas config.