Qantas Non-Stop London & New York Flights One Step Closer

The world is getting excited for Project Sunrise, waiting to see which aircraft Qantas is going to pick. However, for those that are getting impatient, the Australian flag carrier is going to start preparing for its mammoth routes later this year.

Qantas, Boeing 787, London to Sydney
Qantas will fly a Boeing 787 non-stop from London to Sydney before the end of the year. Photo: Qantas

Project Sunrise will see Qantas offering direct flights from Sydney to both London and New York. The huge undertaking means that Qanats will eclipse the current longest flight between Singapore and New York. Qantas’ longest flight is currently the non-stop from London Heathrow to Perth. This flight takes 16-hours and 45-minutes.

Testing the principle

Qantas is due to test the principle of Project Sunrise by the end of the year. This will involve the carrier flying non-stop between London and Sydney and New York and Sydney. You may think “this isn’t possible” and with a regularly scheduled flight, you’d be right. However, Qantas has some tricks up its sleeves.


The Australian carrier has actually flown non-stop between London and Sydney using an almost empty 747 full to the brim with fuel. The carrier will employ similar tactics when testing its direct ultra-long-haul flights.


The airline will be using empty Boeing 787 aircraft being delivered from Seattle. Instead of flying direct to Sydney, the aircraft will fly to either London or New York. Two test flights will operate from New York, with one operating from London. The distance from New York to Sydney is 9,950 miles, compared to 10,573 from London. The three flights will operate in October, November, and December.

Each flight will have a maximum of 40 people on board, with as little luggage and catering as possible. As a result, by reducing the weight of the aircraft, the carrier will be able to extend its range. Some of those on board will be researchers from Monash University. They will take readings to inform both Qantas and the CASA of the effects of long flights in the human body.

What’s next for Project Sunrise?

As we mentioned, the Boeing 787s being used for the test will be almost empty in order to increase range. There are currently no aircraft that match Qantas’ needs for the route. As such, the carrier has invited both Airbus and Boeing to propose aircraft suitable for the scheme.

Qantas, Project Sunrise, Boeing 787
Two Boeing 787s will also fly non-stop from New York to Sydney. Photo: Qantas

We previously reported that Airbus could be considering building an ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350-1000. Additionally, Boeing has pushed back the timeline of the Boeing 777-8 program. It was expected that Boeing would present the Boeing 777-8 to Qantas for the project.

Qantas will be selecting an aircraft for its Project Sunrise initiative by the end of the calendar year. While Airbus appears to be the favorite for the time being, it is impossible to predict which manufacturer the airline will choose. The aircraft will need to comfortably house passengers for the 19-hour flight time envisioned by Qantas.

Would you want to fly non-stop from Sydney to London or New York? Let us know in the comments.


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“The distance from New York to Sydney is 9,950 miles, compared to 10,573 from New York.”

One of the New Yorks in this sentence should be London but I have no clue which one…


This article is a little more upbeat than what I read this morning on Reuters. In the Reuters article, it’s made clear that Project Sunrise is still not a done deal, and Alan Joyce says:
“There is plenty of enthusiasm for Sunrise, but I have to say it is not a foregone conclusion. This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up, and if they don’t, we won’t do it.”


Although it would be nice for Aussies to feel more connected to the rest of the world, Project Sunrise seems to be rather a lot of hot air. For example, a direct flight between Delhi and Santiago de Chili would last 21h 30m, as would a flight from Capetown to Anchorage…but you don’t hear people in those cities bitching about a lack of a direct connection.
Is a short stop at an intermediate airport really the end of the world? It would save a hell of a lot of fuel, and would reduce the risk of thrombosis.


Try Paris – Papeete, it has the worst stopover … in US. Direct flights are desirable for various reasons like you don’t have to wander through the airports, no lost luggage, no extra paperwork, etc


Fair point around 10 years ago. Australia is very connected to the region and beyond these days. I could fly on probably 10 odd flights at least from various ports to Dubai and then onwards. Same for Singapore, HK and major APAC hubs plus also the West Coast, LAX. For business travellers a direct flight is preferred. I’m in London and dallas every 6 weeks. Sydney to DFW is direct as is Perth to London. It’s just bridging that gap of a few hours and avoiding the hassle of a stop. For leisure travellers it’s not an issue but in… Read more »


No way.if beds are not available how will you spend your time? For me trips of more than 10,12 hours are boring and meaningless.

Patrick Menzies

In First Class, sure – bot otherwise NEVER