Qantas Selects The Airbus A350-1000 For Project Sunrise

Qantas has just announced that it will use the A350-1000 aircraft if it proceeds with Project Sunrise. The airline says that, after a detailed evaluation of the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350, the proven reliability of the A350-1000 aircraft with its two years of service elsewhere makes it the preferred choice.

Qantas has picked the A350-1000 as its preferred Project Sunrise aircraft. Photo: Qantas News Room.

An ambitious program gets a much-needed boost today

Project Sunrise is an ambitious program that will see Qantas fly new ultra-long-haul nonstop flights from Australia’s east coast to cities such as London, New York, and Sao Paulo. Project Sunrise has attracted its share of criticism and skepticism with many, including myself, voicing doubts as to whether it will get off the ground.

And Qantas has always maintained that they would make an announcement as to preferred aircraft choice by the end of 2019. Many doubted that would happen as well. But this morning, Qantas made a statement saying the A350-1000 was the preferred choice.

Alan joyce
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, came good with his promise to announce the preferred Project Sunrise aircraft by the end of the year. Photo: Qantas News Room.

There remains one caveat. The decision on whether Project Sunrise will go ahead hasn’t been made yet. According to Qantas, this will be made in March 2020. The substance of today’s announcement is that if Qantas does decide to go ahead with Project Sunrise, they will be using A350-1000 aircraft.


Qantas will be taking up to 12 aircraft. The airline notes that no orders have been placed yet (which would be premature as the decision whether to go ahead with Project Sunrise hasn’t yet been made) but it will be working closely with Airbus to nut out the contract terms.

Just last month, Qantas told both Airbus and Boeing their Project Sunrise offers needed more work, citing issues with price, conditions, and guarantees.


What swayed Qantas to the A350-1000?

In a statement, Qantas says that after careful consideration of both the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350-1000, the latter impressed with its Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines, which has a strong reliability record after being in service with airlines for more than two years. Further, Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for these ultra long haul routes.

Some airlines have started to introduce the A350-1000 onto their Australian routes, but this will be the first time the aircraft has been operated by an Australian airline. And the A350-1000 is generally well regarded by passengers. The existing A350-1000 has a maximum operating range of 14,800 kilometers and can seat between 350 – 410 passengers (depending on configuration).

With the production of the A380 ceasing, the A350-1000 is shaping up as the successor to the Boeing 747.

The A350-1000 is shaping up as the successor to the Boeing 747. Photo: Qantas News Room.

Another big blow for Boeing

Arguably, Boeing had a lot more at stake here than Airbus. Although the aircraft order for Project Sunrise is a small order, it is a marque order. It would have given the delayed Boeing 777X program a kickstart. Recently there has been speculation that the continued survival of the 777X program was contingent on it being selected as the preferred Project Sunrise aircraft

What happens now with the 777X program is anyone’s guess. Whereas Airbus would have had to simply swallow their pride and keep on producing the A350-1000 for other customers, Boeing has a lot more to think about.

What do you think? Do you think Qantas made the right decision today? Post a comment and let us know.


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There’s no other choice at the moment. But I love the A350


100% right


oml, I love the a350-1000. It’s a great aircraft!


This is terrific news! Let’s hope they actually go ahead with it. I would dread sitting in a ten abreast 777 for 20 hours! Good choice qantas!

Isaiah Levi

yes, but not the 777x

Lalo Galo

I would go the A3 0 as w2ll the 777X has been a premature failure kind of


Qantas have not been a traditional lover of Airbus planes: Making their dissatisfaction wit the A380 well known, their love of the 787 equally clear. While the A350 was the logical choice, I thought Boeing would have done anything and everything to stop this decision going against them. I personally love the A350 and could not be happier. It is a quiet, fuel efficient and now proven plane that had an almost flawless introduction.

Nicholas Cummins

That being said, they were not a lover of the original 777 either.


A decision I think pretty much everyone (including Qantas) would agree was one of the poorest fleet planning mistakes made.


They have clearly been a lover of the A330 family, with 28 in their fleet. That 50% of their wide body fleet.

Neil W

Qantas has 28 A330’s in their fleet and I think they are reasonably happy with them.


Many of us working in WA use to time are departure back to Brisbane to utilise the A330 rather than 737. Great plane in my book, flown to Singapore and Auckland also sad day when they are retired.


Proven performance wins. Good choice and sensible business decision to minimise risk exposure. Now we hope that the project gets the official nod!

Farhan Nazar

The failed pressure test of the 777X probably had something to do with their decision…..

Hein Vandenbergh



This choice was a ‘no brainer’ as far as I’m concerned. The bigger headache for Qantas and Boeing is the 737MAX and what Qantas is going to replace their current 737 fleet with. And the MAX is a poisoned chalice.
Anyway, back on topic, well done Qantas on choosing a beautiful aircraft for Project Sunrise. I don’t think there’s too many people out there, outside of Boeing fanboys of course, that would disagree with the A350-1000 rising to the top.

Moaz Abid

Replace it with A320neo’s


I had a feeling the A350 would take the crown! I am pleased for QANTAS and Airbus. The Boeing 777X-9 will be a wonderful aircraft , but perhaps that failed pressure test did not go down well at QANTAS, and was a major sway in their decision. Boeing’s Annus Horribilis continues.

Matthew in PDX

Hmm… A plane that is in production, has several years of operational experience, and needs (relatively) minor adjustments to fulfill the proposed mission. Or a plane that has yet to fly, be certified, or attain any flying experience, from a manufacturer that is mired in a scandal related to the development and certification of a major airliner. Such a difficult decision. It would not surprise me in the least if Qantas and other airlines increase the speed of their drift away from Boeing. The 737MAX, if it ever does fly again, will only survive until the next generation of high… Read more »

Neil Winfield

I think the delayed time frame for the B777-8 was a major factor. Boeing’s interim offer of B777-200L’s obviously didn’t gain any traction with Qantas – 15 year old technology.
But yes – I agree there was a lot of risk attached to Boeing’s proposal.

High Mile Club

Are these going to be modified in some way? As it stands, the A350 can’t fly that distance on a full load. Maybe Qantas might do only premium and above seating.


Umm additional fuel tank and increased MTOW

Nicholas Cummins

Yes, this will be an updated version of the A350-1000 (not a XLR unfortunately, but will have differences enough)

High Mile Club

I probably wouldn’t say “update”, because it’s probably not the next in line version as opposed to a side grade. Haven’t heard about an actual new product line for the AA35K that would appear soon.

Neil Winfield

As per the article an extra fuel tank and a slight increase in maximum gross weight. Qantas only want to carry 300 passengers which is less than full capacity on the 350-1000.

Gerry S

@HMC: Article clearly states that Airbus will add an additional fuel tank

High Mile Club

Ok, I missed a sentence.




NICE choice Qantas!! SO sorry Boeing 😉


That’s amazing news, we finally got an Aussie A350


Hardly surprising, seeing as there was no real competitor aircraft.
It transpired yesterday that Emirates has cancelled a further 11 777Xs.


Great choice qantas


Absolutely the right decision to select this outstanding aircraft which will be modified for ultra long haul routes as specified for Project Sunrise. Importantly it for those selecting to fly in the economy cabin the 9 abreast configuration offers superior comfort to the 10 abreast option many airlines have selected for their B777 fleet. The A350-1000 will also be suitable for other routes in the Qantas network such as Sydney/Melbourne to Hong Kong, Santiago & Johannesburg to name a few.


Airbus better quality in general !


Now I wonder if Boeing will cancel the 777-8 altogether and focus more resources towards the NMA and FSA? I’m sure existing 777-8 orders could (and would) be switched to the 777-9, should this happen.

Herb Saravanamuttoo

The ultra long haul market is quite small , and Qantas only need a small number of aeroplanes. Probably the real significance of this decision is that further A350s will likely be added to the mainline fleet. I doubt if the 777-8 will ever get built

Ken Warner

Excellent decision.


I have yet to fly in the A350 in any configuration, but if it is more comfortable, in either PE or J , than the B 787, then I would welcome the opportunity to fly a really long distance.

Mate Rewiri

What great news for airbus the big question is which airline will start non stop services to Sydney and Melbourne from. London.
Will it be Virgin or maybe British airways, rather than Qantas.


I don’t care what aircraft Qantas chooses, they lost me years ago and nothing would convince me to go back to them.

Michael Sheargold

This news has made me so happy! The A350 is a stunning aircraft and as an Aussie QFF this changes the game for long haul. Great decision Qantas congratulations a neat 100th birthday present to Australia.

Nate Dogg

I said in one of my posts weeks and weeks ago that Qantas were offered a 321T MTOW version of the A350-1000 and that it could do a 20hr mission with 300 pax. It seems nobody believed me. I guess you’ll all believe me now. I did know as I make the damn wings for this beauty!! BA and Virgin will get their stock standard 321T versions about 4 years before Qantas and make Alan Joyce look a little stupid.


Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.

Moaz Abid

Why don’t they order the A350-900ulr with a slightly more modified range.