Qantas has confirmed that Project Sunrise won’t see beds placed in the cargo bay. Informally known as cargo class, the ambitious undertaking would’ve seen a space where Qantas passengers could head for a rest on ultra long haul flights.
Instead, the carrier is looking to implement leisure spaces in the main body of the aircraft. By replacing cargo space with passenger amenities, the carrier could have reduced weight. Weight can be critical in extending the operating range of an aircraft. Indeed, this has been seen on the Singapore Airlines A350ULR.
Qantas had been looking at utilising a cargo class capacity for passengers during Project Sunrise flights. Project Sunrise sees the carrier attempting to make the connection between London and Sydney nonstop. Currently, Qantas passengers between the two cities have to stop en route to refuel the aircraft. However, Qantas markets the remaining leg as a fifth freedom flight in order to maximise profits.
Now, London to Sydney non-stop would become the world’s longest flight. It has been managed once by an empty Qantas Boeing 747 in 20 hours and 9 minutes according to reporting in Traveller. Passengers can get restless on a four-hour flight, so imagine how they’d feel after this super long flight.
This was the idea behind the Qantas cargo class. Passengers would have a place to go and stretch their legs or lie down in a more comfortable position than in an aircraft seat.
Weight reduction benefits
Carriers can increase their range by reducing their payloads. Indeed, if the aircraft is carrying less, it can accommodate more fuel before hitting its maximum weight. Cargo can be fairly heavy and dense.
— Safran (@SAFRAN) April 10, 2018
As such, cargo class would actually help with reducing the weight of the aircraft. The space taken up for passenger space in the hold would largely be empty. The exception would be the beds, which could be manufactured of specifically lightweight materials.
The new plan
Qantas has scrapped its cargo class plans for the time being. Australian Business Traveller quotes Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, as saying,
“The package we looked at – putting things in baggage holds – didn’t work”.
Instead, Qantas is looking at placing an exercise area in the main cabin. This will still reduce weight, as passengers and seats will not occupy the area during takeoff and landing. Joyce sees it as “area for a number of people to stand up and do exercise”.
A number of airlines currently offer bars onboard long flights, with Virgin Atlantic introducing a social space onboard its new Airbus A350. However, Joyce told media,
“Some airlines are going for bars, we’re going for health and wellbeing, which is a lot better for you!”
Qantas wasn’t able to provide a comment, but they did confirm that “sleeping space in the cargo hold has been decided against due to practicality and ensuring we maintain the right payload to get the necessary range out of the aircraft.”
Do you think Qantas cargo class would have worked? Would you have utilised it? Let us know in the comments!
Updated with comments from Qantas – 0730UTC 5th June 2019