Airbus confirms plans for a new ultra long-range A350 XWB


Toulouse - Airbus has confirmed that the study for a new ultra long range version of the A350 XWB is on the agenda of the European aircraft manufacturer, in particular, to meet the demand of the Australian flag carrier Qantas.

With "Project Sunrise" Qantas wants to launch direct flights to New York and Europe from the east coast of Australia.

During the IATA's annual general meeting held from 3 to 5 June in Sydney, Eric Schultz, Chief Commercial Officer for Airbus, has confirmed that the development of an ultra long range A350 XWB for Qantas is on the table now.

Australian operator aims to launch non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports to New York. The company asks Airbus and Boeing to develop a new 300-seater, ultra long-range version of the A350 XWB and B777X for these routes.

The length of flights already pushed the CEO Alan Joyce to consider extra spaces for passengers in the hold. In April 2018, Airbus introduced a new conceptreplacing the usual containers with additional passenger compartments such as sleeping, family, lounge or working areas.

Cargo hold concept

Alternatively, lounge and family and conference areas are conceivable in the concept as well as a compartment for the medical care of passengers, © Airbus

Qantas to decide next year whether to set new long-distance records with a Boeing or Airbus aircraft. The plane of choice must meet the goal of Qantas' Project Sunrise connecting Sydney to London and New York with non-stop flights, a flight time of more than 20 hours.

From the spring of 2018, the airline has already started to fly non-stop between Perth and London on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

According to Alan Joyce, Qantas may also consider connecting Perth and Frankfurt as well as Perth and Paris with non-stop flights within the next few years.

For the 20-hour routes from Sydney, Qantas expects ingenuity from the aircraft manufacturers.

Everything is on the table, and we are working our way through the development phase. We have intensive and in-depth discussions with the aircraft manufacturers,
said Qantas international operations chief Alison Webster.

For Qantas boss Alan Joyce, these non-stop flights represent the "ultimate frontier" of aviation.

Airbus and Boeing are withholding production slots for us. The official selection process will start this year,
said, Joyce.

After Qantas, Air New Zealand could be another buyer for the future long-distance sprinters. Airbus forecasts a market potential of 50 to 100 copies for the current A350-900ULR, which will be delivered to Singapore Airlines in the coming months.