Aircraft delivery delays have forced Qantas to push back by six months plans to launch ultra-long-haul flights from Australia’s east coast to New York and London.

The Oneworld carrier had originally been targeting a late 2025 start for its Project Sunrise initiative, for which it is taking delivery of a dozen ultra-long-haul Airbus A350-1000s. 

Project sunrise Premium Economy

Source: Qantas

Qantas in June 2023 unveiled plans for its premium economy (pictured) and economy cabins for its ultra-long-haul A350-1000s

Qantas had originally expected to take delivery of three Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97-powered A350-1000s during its financial year running to end of June 2026.

However in an interim results presentation today, it says that after updated delay information from the airframer, it now expects deliveries of these aircraft to begin in the third quarter of the 2026 calendar year.

Separately, the carrier also says it now expects delivery of its first A321XLR for its Qantas Domestic unit to be three months late and to take place in early 2025. While it still expects to take delivery of three A321XLRs in its 2025 financial year, it will only recieve seven, rather than nine, of the type in the year ending June 2026.

A350-1000 Qantas XWB eng-c-Airbus

Source: Airbus

Qantas will use A350-1000s for Project Sunrise flights

The group took delivery of eight new and used aircraft over the six months to December 2023 as part of its fleet renewal programme and 14 more aircraft will join the fleet over the second half of its current financial year. 

The airline has also allocated eight more A321XLRs to Qantas Domestic from the group’s existing order, taking to 28 the number the unit will take as part of plans to replace its existing Boeing 737s.

Qantas’ used aircraft activity includes the purchase of four additional mid-life A319s for its Perth-based charter unit Network Aviation. These will be delivered across the year and take the carrier’s fleet to nine.