Select Page

Project Sunrise – Qantas reveals what it won’t be spending money on

Project Sunrise – Qantas reveals what it won’t be spending money on

Qantas today has issued a press release detailing ‘what passengers want‘ on the planned ultra-long non-stop flights between the east-coasts of Australia and the USA, and Australia and Europe when flights launch in 2022.

They have expressed their feelings in a series of passenger surveys and focus group discussions. If you want to know what people ‘said’ – you can read the release.

If you want to know what I think Qantas will actually do and actually NOT do, then read on.

a sketch of a lounge
Airbus Cargo hold renders: Meeting and Bar options.

Qantas won’t add any weight

These Journeys will be a stretch for whichever aircraft Qantas chooses out of Boeings 777 range, and AirBus’s A350 family.

They are already running back from the specification that the aircraft for these ultra long-distance routes needed to be able to take a full passenger load. And they have previously canvassed the installation of sleeping births in the cargo hold, with Airbus even preparing some renderings in mid 2018.

a sketch of a toy
Airbus Cargo Hold Renders: Family Play area and Medical unit

These won’t happen, because why would you add unnecessary weight when you are already dropping passenger numbers to accommodate fuel to accomplish these ultra long distances? These facilities will only be added if they can generate additional income, either as an add on to current fares, or as a ‘new class’ of ‘seat’.

Sleeper birth supplement

I can only see this happening if you could buy an economy or premium economy seat, and add a cargo bay Sleeper Birth to the fare. (‘Open the Cargo Bay HAL‘).

That would be a delicate balance of pricing – because the total of an Economy fare plus cargo bay Sleeper Birth, would need to be cheaper than a Premium Economy seat (or would it?) and a Premium Economy plus cargo bay Sleeper Birth would need to be less than the cost of a Business fare.

Qantas won’t spend much money

“Our job now is to determine where the most demand is and create this cabin in a way that makes it both affordable for customers and commercially viable for the airline. Everything is on the table and we are excited about what innovations may come from this research.”

Although the Perth to London route is reportedly popular, long haul routes, in general, are precarious for profits by their very nature. They require a very delicate balance of capacity, pricing, seat mix and scheduling to work. Just ask Singapore Airlines about that. They are already having difficulty selling premium economy on their all premium flights on the direct Singapore to New York route.

On ultra long-haul, if you don’t sell a seat, then its empty for the whole flight. It’s not like short-haul, where a seat might be empty for this leg, but sold for the next sector.

With suggestions like this:

Health and wellness are the top trends coming through all research, with a strong focus on mindfulness and “separation of experience” at different stages of a long-haul flight.


. . . you can see that Qantas won’t be spending any money on any weighty ‘separation of experience‘.

It’s good that a ‘mindfulness’ channel on the AV system won’t add any weight to the plane, not like showers, or bigger seats, or actual gyms, or a bar, or bunks, or a medical centre, or a kids playroom in the cargo hold.

a group of people sitting in a restaurant
Captain Cook lounge in the bump of the first Qantas 747 Jumbos.

They might try something

Like the Captain Cook lounge in the original Qantas 747, they might try something for a while, but it will disappear once they work out how to make more revenue – without increasing cost or weight or both.

They will probably just fiddle at the edges, like they have done on the Perth to London route, with smaller meals being able to be sold as ‘healthy’ options, as well as being lighter in weight, and therefore costing Qantas less to transport on these ultra long-haul flights.

My Take: Window Dressing

So – what do I think about all this? I think it’s a bit of window dressing.

In reality, I suspect the research is more about working out what the correct mix of cabin categories will be, and whether sticking a cafe/bar in the cargo hold will work. A yoga/stretching space might work too – it won’t add any extra weight if you leave out the exercise bikes, and it can be slipped into the belly of the beast, where due to weight restrictions they couldn’t carry cargo anyway.

Anyone have some insider knowledge, or been part of a survey or focus group?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Previously . . .

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates about 2PAXfly.

Reviews, deals, offers, and most of all opinion will be in your inbox.

We won't spam you, and we won't share your details with others.

Newsletter Regularity

You have Successfully Subscribed!