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QANTAS: Half year results, and details of ‘Sunrise Project’ Business Class seats on A350s

QANTAS: Half year results, and details of ‘Sunrise Project’ Business Class seats on A350s

Tomorrow, February 23rd, Qantas is expected to report an AU$1.3 to AU$1.4 billion profit for the July to December 2022 half-year, a share by-back of around AU$400 million, and to reveal its designs for Business Class on its ‘Project Sunrise’ Airbus A350s according to industry analysts. The financial results represent an increase in profit of AU$150 million over previous forecasts in October.

a room with a bed and a screen

A350s – what we know

We already know that Qantas is planning closed-door First Class Suites with both seats and beds for a select few. But, we currently don’t know much about the 52 Business Class seats available from 2025 in these 20-hour odd ‘Project Sunrise’ flights, travelling from the East Coast of Australia to – take your pick – Paris, London and New York. The West coast will also see these birds on the Perth to London routes from 2026, replacing the current 787-9s.

You can expect these fuel-efficient twin-engined, single-deck planes to slowly replace the retiring two-level super jumbo A380s as we head towards 2030. They will even challenge the 787 fleet on other routes. Not because they have any significantly greater capacity, but because they have a greater number of premium seats – First, Business and Premium Economy. That’s where the money is to be made, and that therefore is the future of international long haul for Qantas.

a bed with a tray and a laptop on it
Qantas First Class A350 concept drawing

A350 First Class

We know quite a lot about these since Qantas has already revealed concept plans and renderings. There will be six first Class suites in a 1-1-1 configuration over two rows on the 12 ultra-long haul A350s. With high walls and a sliding door, they will provide an enclosed Suite. This will be in stark contrast to the current A380 First Class, with open although cocooning suites.

In the A350 you will get an armchair and bed – similar to those already present on Etihad and Singapore Airlines First Class.

That’s the gain. The loss is the ottoman for ‘dining for two’ which the A380 First Class suites did include. There will be room for your carry-on under the footstool/ottoman, and a shoe drawer within. The suite will sport a 32″ screen. There’s plenty of other storage scattered about including suit-style hanging space within the door/wall.

Qantas Airbus family: A350-1000, A321XLR and A220

A350 Business Class

The big speculation, by ET and many others is whether the new Business Class on the A350 will sport privacy sliding doors. The other question is how will Qantas take advantage of the roughly 22 centimetres of additional width in the A350 cabin compared to the Boeing 787. Qantas has also released some cabin layout renders, which seem to indicate there is a greater emphasis on privacy in the new business class, but they are ambiguous as to whether sliding doors will be provided. There is also a Wellbeing area between Premium Economy and Economy suggesting this is a shared zone.

Qantas A350 renders – have a close look at that business class cabin

There is even more speculation that in line with other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, there will be some kind of ‘Business Plus’ cabin – say in the front row? Although the two examples listed provide this Business Plus area as a kind of salve because they don’t have an actual First Class. Is it possible this is a new trend towards supplying a transitional class between Business and First? Like Premium Economy is between Economy and Business?

Lots of questions but few answers so far.

On board tech+

I expect Qantas will update its tech on the A350 by providing USB-C charging points instead, or maybe as well as USB-A. To not include wireless charging would be a design faux pas, with or without friction surface to keep your device in place. Wireless Bluetooth audio connections for headphones/earbuds are also another must.

The elephant in the room is WiFi. Qantas provides it on most domestic flights but has stubbornly ignored the need on international/long-haul routes. Most of its competitors have had this for years, so this could be a sticking point for business customers when exercising their choice of airline.

Emirates showers [Emirates]

2PAXfly Takeout

Qantas, which has been an innovator in premium classes in the past, even claiming to be the ‘inventor’ of business class, sadly now lags behind in premium comfort and facilities. No wi-fi on long-haul, and no functioning premium bar onboard let alone showers in the sky for First Class passengers.

The birth of the A350 ultra long haul Project Sunrise jet offers the opportunity to throw the design and innovation book at the cabins to make an industry-leading again set of cabins

Let’s hope Qantas goes the whole hog this time.

Maybe we will know on Wednesday 24, February 2023.

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