Qantas challenged; Boeing and Airbus accepted… introducing Project Sunrise. Smashing through international barriers, 2022 will be the year of the Sydney to London direct flight, and who better to take on the task than Qantas.
As an iconic Australian airline, Qantas has the perfect motivation to drive this venture – connecting isolated Australia with the rest of the world in one direct flight. In March this year Qantas launched their 17-hour nonstop Perth to Heathrow route and with demand high (Perth to London flights are sitting at 92% capacity on average) it’s no surprise they want to go further, to do as no one has done before them. Last year Alan Joyce (Qantas’ CEO) approached Boeing and Airbus with the inconceivable challenge to design a plane capable of making the journey between Sydney and London (approximately 17,020km, or 10,575.7 miles) in one trip.
Whilst a brilliant idea on the surface, it is the tribute to the legendary Double Sunrise flights that were operated by Qantas across the Indian Ocean during the Second World War that makes this accomplishment even more special. As a record-breaking 20-hour and two-sunrise-long flight, it seems near impossible but Boeing and Airbus have risen to the occasion, announcing that they now have a plane that is up to this mammoth challenge.
With a plane already lined up, the question now turns to the passengers: are people actually willing to be in the air for this long? While some will find the avoidance of connection fuss and the decrease in overall travel time well worth the 20-hour stint, there are many travellers opting to build more stopovers into their itinerary as a means to break up long haul flights. With this in mind, Qantas is thinking outside the box to increase the overall flight experience. They are looking at providing extra comforts to the plane’s design, including sleeping facilities, gym access, bars and childcare, making the flight time well worth it. With Qantas already accommodating for ultra-long-haul flights with pre-flight yoga classes in the Perth to London passengers lounge and adapted menus, this seems like the next natural step.
P.S. direct flights between Sydney and New York are also on the cards and if that’s not a reason to get excited then we don’t know what is.