We look at the latest developments for Qantas’ Project Sunrise, including a new first-class lounge in London and the order of 12 Airbus A350-1000s.
Qantas recorded a multi-billion-dollar surplus in February; with that, the carrier looks to be doubling down on its investment into the long-awaited ‘Project Sunrise’. Prior to the pandemic, the Australian flag carrier was one of just a few airlines that generated more than the cost of its ongoing capital spending.
After losing over AU$7 billion ($4.78 billion) due to international and state border closures during the pandemic’s peak. The Qantas Group, which includes low-cost carrier Jetstar, reported a half-year underlying profit before tax of AU$1.43 billion ($975.6 million).
Within the same announcement of the airline’s record profit, CEO Alan Joyce revealed the airline would invest roughly AU$2.7 billion ($1.84 billion) in capital investment, with a substantial portion earmarked for extra aircraft. Onboard, you’ll have an unequaled experience.
The Airbus A350-1000, which will serve as the backbone of Project Sunrise, will allow point-to-point travel between Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD) or Melbourne Tullamarine International Airport (MEL) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or London Heathrow (LHR) in a single flight. Changing the ‘kangaroo route’ from a multi-stop adventure to a one-flight delight.
According to the airline’s official announcement, the revamped onboard experience comprises first class, a lie-flat bed, a reclining lounge chair in a 1-1-1 arrangement, or business class seats with full privacy behind sliding doors. The Airbus A350-1000 is designed to carry up to 238 passengers in Qantas’ envisaged layout, a far cry from Airbus’ maximum capacity of 480 in a one-class layout. Qantas expects a new plane every three weeks thanks to a large contract with Airbus for over 300 narrowbody and 12 widebody aircraft.
The 12 widebodies on order will eventually constitute the backbone of Project Sunrise, with the Airbus A350-1000 serving as the preferred aircraft for direct flights to New York or London.
Investing in London
Qantas is investing AU$100 million (US$68.82 million) on different lounge upgrades, including a brand-new first-class lounge at London Heathrow at the forefront of the scheme. Qantas’ new first class lounge at Heathrow (LHR) is expected to debut in late 2025, making it the first of its kind on European soil.
Qantas’ other four first-class lounges are in Los Angeles, Melbourne, Singapore, and Sydney. The International Lounge, which Qantas now operates in Heathrow Terminal 3, will be supplemented by the new first-class facilities, which will serve the large number of premium guests traveling on Project Sunrise flights. About London’s newest lounge, airline CEO Joyce said:
“London is one of our most important destinations, and it’s the ideal site for a First Lounge, especially with our Project Sunrise flights on the way.”