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Australia’s Qantas selects Airbus for longest direct flights

By Ramla Soni

Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight

Australia’s Qantas Airways has chosen the Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred aircraft for the world’s longest direct flights, including routes between Sydney and London, following a competition with the Boeing 777X aircraft.

The airline has stated that the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft which uses the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, has a “strong reliability record,” after being in service with airlines for more than two years.

Airbus has agreed to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March 2020, providing additional time to negotiate an industrial agreement without impacting the planned start date of Qantas Project Sunrise flights in the first half of 2023.

Project Sunrise is a plan by Qantas to operate nonstop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia to London, New York, Paris, Frankfurt and destinations in Latin America and Africa, such as Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.

Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.

The last of three Project Sunrise research flights (New York to Sydney) will be conducted on December 17. Once complete, Qantas will have almost 60 hours of ‘Sunrise flying’ experience.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience.”

Orders have not been places yet but Qantas will work closely with Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft ahead of a final decision by the Qantas Board.

The Australian carrier already operates a Perth to London route, one of the world’s longest, using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

FURTHER READING: Airbus’s largest cargo aircraft receives approval from European authorities

FURTHER READING: Further reading: Emirates buys 39 Boeing 787-9 jets worth $8.8 billion

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