Would Other Airlines Ever Compete With Qantas On Project Sunrise Flights?

Yesterday, Qantas completed the first test of its highly-anticipated Project Sunrise mission. The airline’s brand new Boeing 787-9 landed in Sydney after departing New York 19 hours and 16 minutes.

Project Sunrise Landing
During Sydney’s early hours of the morning, the first test flight of Project Sunrise made a successful landing. Photo: Qantas

This record-breaking flight marks a revolution in aviation. The prospect of nonstop scheduled services between the east coasts of both the United States and Australia are now on the horizon. Once this is in full swing, other airlines may look into competing with Qantas with similar services.

Current services

Currently, some US carriers fly to Melbourne from New York but with one or two stops along the way. United Airlines’ regular service stops at LAX, on the US’ west coast before a switch to a flight across the Pacific Ocean. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines also operate the majority of their services to Sydney with this route.

Qantas’ rival, Virgin Australia, also flies directly between Los Angeles and Melbourne. Therefore, with so many airlines flying from California, they will be incentivized to expand a direct service from New York.

Qantas also introduced the first-ever non-stop flight between Australia and Europe last year. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner flies from Perth, on Australia’s west coast, to London Heathrow. However, services from the United Kingdom to Australia’s eastern cities are still broken up between flights. At the moment, British Airways operates regular services to Sydney but with a stop in Singapore along the way.

Project Sunrise landing
The landing of the first Project Sunrise test was met with jubilation. Photo: Qantas

European expansion

With the UK interested in revising foreign relations with commonwealth nations following Brexit, there is further incentive for direct routes between the two allies. Last month, the UK and Australia agreed to begin trade negotiations to increase economic ties. The UK is one of Australia’s largest trading partners, with a relationship worth £16.6 billion annually.

Subsequently, as airlines continue to improve connectivity between the UK and the US for business passengers, they will also be looking to improve routes between the UK and its other long-lasting associate.

British Airways
With the UK revising trade agreements with Australia, airlines such as British Airways may look into expanding its services between the nations. Photo: Rafael Luiz Canossa via Wikimedia Commons

Costly service

The cost of such an operation is massive. Along with this, with Qantas already building on its foundations, initial demand for similar flights from other airlines might not be so high. If any airline was to soon expand on direct routes to Australia, it would be Qantas, due to its existing experience to provide such a service.

Nonetheless, technology is continuing to advance and the global economy is becoming more connected. Therefore, we may eventually see an increase in direct flights between northern nations and Australia over the next few decades.

However, for the time being, Qantas is firmly in control of developing these grand ventures, following the successful first test of Project Sunrise.

Do you think there is enough demand for more services such as Project Sunrise? Let us know which airline you think would be the best fit for such as service in the comment section.

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In regards to British Airways Willie Walsh made it very clear he was not at all interested in doing direct flights from Heathrow to anywhere in Australia. Virgin Atlantic I reckon might be on board with it though.

Air New Zealand also does have plans to do Auckland to New York flights but they still want to have London via LA and not direct due to their focus on the Pacific Rim rather than Europe.

US carriers like United might also be happy to do direct New York to Australia flights too.


And forgot to mention I live in Melbourne and British Airways, American Airlines and Delta do NOT fly here at all! Only from Sydney.

Henry Montrose

I really want to be in a sardine can for 19 hours, can you imagine those poor souls in pleb class..No Thanks


I find that there is no suffering in lie flat business class at all. I would fly 20 hours in business in preference to breaking it into a 23 hours flight with stops. If I’m in economy a stop over and a nights sleep in a hotel is essential and affordable.

Henry Montrose

Thanks William, but there is no stop over or hotel on a non-stop flight !!!, and how many people can afford business class …it’s really expensive,and the average family of 4 are stuck in the back for 19 hours plus ..


Seriously, flying in sardine class anything over 10 hours is brutal already, nevermind 19plus. Less than a 45degree seat recline and a footrest in economy would be inhumane, IMHO.

Mike Lawson

Thanks Sumit, for your interesting report on Project Sunrise, with the rapid growth of tourism / business to South America, a direct flight Melbourne to Brazil – Sao Paulo a city +great population of 22+ million, the city has the lastest International Airports , another “Amanecer del proyecto” most likely by Latam or Avianca, (Qantas has links with American Airlines) and Air New Zealand has links to Aerolineas Argentinas. Another “Amanecer del proyecto” could be ? to follow the old PAN AM global flights Pan Am flight 1 clockwise and Pan Am flight 2 anticlockwise but in the southern hemisphere.… Read more »