Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has challenged Airbus and Boeing to provide aircraft with superior economics over extreme ranges.
In a speech accompanying the company's results for its 2017 financial year, Joyce asked the two big airframers to offer a jet that, by 2022, can fly a full payload on routes such as Sydney-London, Brisbane-Paris, and Melbourne-New York.
"This is the last frontier in global aviation," says Joyce. "The antidote to the tyranny of distance."
He notes that Airbus and Boeing are both developing aircraft that "can almost do the job" – the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350ULR. He has written to both manufacturers on this topic.
"This would be one of the most strategically important aircraft orders in the history of Qantas," he says.
The flight distance of Sydney-London is about 9,200nm, Brisbane-Paris 8,900nm, and Melbourne-New York 9,000nm.
According to Airbus's website, the range of a baseline A350-900 with 325 seats is 8,100nm. In May, Airbus confirmed a formal range figure for the A350-900ULR – which is equipped with extra fuel tanks – of 9,700nm.
Boeing's website, meanwhile, says that developmental 777-8 has a range of 8,700nm with 350-375 passengers, and the 777-9 7,600nm with 400-425 passengers.
Joyce's challenge comes as Qantas prepares to launch its 7,800nm Perth-London route in in March 2018 with its new 787-9 aircraft.