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Qantas eyes regulatory, labour issues for Project Sunrise

Qantas believes that Airbus and Boeing can deliver an aircraft capable of meeting its ‘Project Sunrise’ requirement for ultra-long-haul routes, with the focus now on required changes to regulations and its agreement with pilots.

Chief executive Alan Joyce says that the carrier has received information from both Airbus and Boeing and is planning to advance to a formal request for proposals to the manufacturers in 2019.

But the carrier is still working with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on regulatory changes that would allow it to operate the potentially 21-hour long flights from Australia’s east coast to the US east coast and Europe. It also needs to amend its enterprise bargaining agreement with pilots to pave the way for the new flights before it moves towards a decision on the RFP.

“I’m comfortable with what I’ve seen that both manufacturers will produce an aircraft that can do it now, and it’s just a matter of making sure we have those other streams working and coming together before we order the aircraft,” says Joyce.

Under Project Sunrise, Qantas laid down the challenge to Airbus and Boeing to deliver an aircraft that could allow it to launch nonstop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York with a full load of around 300 passengers.

Airbus has been advocating its ULR variant of the A350-900, but also left the door open to potential modifications of the larger -1000 to meet the requirement. Boeing has indicated that it will offer the 777-8.

“If the business case works, if the regulations can be changed and if the pilot agreement is reached, we will see these aircraft arriving by 2022 and into operations,” adds Joyce.

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