Dec 11, 2017 - Just a matter of months after Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced a new long-haul flight ambition, the national carrier is one step closer to realising its goals.
Back in August, upon announcing the mammoth $1.4 billion profit for FY17, Joyce revealed what he called ‘Project Sunrise’, which challenged Boeing and Airbus to deliver aircraft capable of direct flights from Sydney to London, Brisbane to Paris, and Melbourne to New York.
“From next year, we’ll be flying direct from Perth to London. So the time is right to set ourselves a new challenge. To chase a new frontier,” Joyce said.
“This is a last frontier in global aviation. And a revolution for air travel in Australia.”
“I have written to the CEOs of Boeing and Airbus to extend the challenge to them. Both manufacturers are developing aircraft that can almost do the job – the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350ULR.
And now, in response to Project Sunrise, a nod to the Double Sunrise flights operated by Qantas across the Indian Ocean in WWII, where they remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises, Boeing is rising to the very ambitious occasion.
Joyce’s challenge pitted the Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra-long range) against the Boeing 777-8X, and it seems Boeing is the first to respond.
Per Australian Aviation, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President and Chief Project Engineer for the 777X program, Michael Teal, said they were working with Qantas to understand its requirements.
“The good thing about getting in on it early with Qantas and their request is really to understand their fleet requirements and the market demands,” Teal said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, per AA.
“If you look at the exact airplane we have on paper today, which is not at firm configuration, it falls short of all their desires but exceeds many of their desires. What we are doing today is looking at what knobs we can twist.
“We are highly motivated to participate with them on Project Sunrise and make sure that the aircraft offering we have will meet their needs.”
The 777-8X is still in development and yet to reach firm configuration, however the Boeing website lists the aircraft as having a range of 8,700nm and a passenger capacity of 350-375 passengers, with the aircraft expected to enter service in 2022.
It already boasts new advancements including new, more powerful engines, new composite wings with folding wingtips, and in-cabin enhancements like more overhead storage space and a wider cross section.
The GE9X engine is due to begin flight tests on General Electric’s flying testbed before the end of the year.
Per AA, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President and General Manager for the 777X program, Eric Lindblad, said he “expected the 777-8X to have a “greater customer base than what you see in the 777-200LR”.
“We also expect that the -9 to be our top seller and the -8 will just fit inside of the fleet architecture that various of our customers want.”
Qantas has also hinted that Cape Town, South Africa and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are on the horizon for additional direct, long-haul flights.
Currently, the world’s longest route by distance is Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland service at 7,848nm, operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.
Dec 11, 2017 - Air New Zealand has leased two aircraft to help maintain its timetable during the unscheduled maintenance of some Rolls-Royce engines on its 787-9 fleet. The Airbus 330 and Airbus 340 are being chartered from European company Hi Fly. They are expected to begin operating some Auckland-Sydney and all Auckland-Perth services by next week. Air New Zealand General Manager Customer Experience Anita Hawthorne says the airline is working hard to minimise the impact on customers caused by the unscheduled Rolls-Royce engine maintenance. “Unfortunately, around 4,500 customers have been affected by international flight delays and a small number of cancellations over the past week. Once these two additional aircraft are in service we will be able to operate a near normal timetable,” Ms Hawthorne says. “We are acutely mindful of how important travel is to so many of our customers at this time of year and we are committed to ensuring we connect people with family, friends and the experiences they are looking forward to. Equally, it is a critical time of year for our cargo customers, so giving them certainty to be able to continue to move goods internationally is important.” Ms Hawthorne says customers travelling on the leased aircraft will notice some difference in product and service style. “The aircraft will be operated by pilots and crew from Hi Fly under the oversight of Air New Zealand. This was a much quicker path to get the aircraft into our network than going through a lengthy certification and training programme for our own people, who are not trained to operate the Airbus widebody aircraft. “Air New Zealand’s union partners have been extremely understanding of this situation and share our commitment to take the necessary steps to maintain the flight schedule over this important Christmas and summer period. We thank them for their support.”
| An Air New Zealand release || December 11, 2017 |||
Dec 7, 2017 - Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines today announced they will jointly launch a third daily flight between Auckland and Singapore from 28 October 2018, boosting capacity on the route by up to 40 percent and adding more than 165,000 seats annually between the two cities. The additional service, along with a revision of current schedules, will shorten connection times and improve connectivity through the Singapore hub. The new service will operate daily during the peak Northern Winter season (28 October 2018 – 30 March 2019), and five times per week during the Northern Summer season (31 March 2019 – 26 October 2019). During peak months the airlines will jointly operate a total of 35 return services a week between Singapore and New Zealand, including Christchurch and Wellington flights. Under their joint venture alliance that took effect in January 2015 the airlines will continue to operate one daily return service each on the Auckland-Singapore route, with a third service operated by Singapore Airlines during the Northern Winter season and Air New Zealand during the Northern Summer season. Air New Zealand will operate its new configuration 787-9 aircraft, offering more Premium Economy and Business Premier seats than its current 787-9 fleet. Singapore Airlines will operate a mix of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs, depending on the season. Air New Zealand Chief Strategy, Networks and Alliances Officer, Nick Judd, expects the new service and revised schedules to be especially appealing to travellers to and from Europe, India and Southeast Asia. “Singapore’s Changi Airport has been named Skytrax World’s Best Airport for the past five years and with connection times with European services now three hours or less this is a very comfortable and convenient transit stop for travellers in both directions.” Singapore Airlines Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Mr Tan Kai Ping, said: “Our alliance with Air New Zealand has already benefited customers through more capacity, choice, improved connections and more codeshare destinations. We are proud of the alliance’s three destinations in New Zealand - Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. The new flight to Auckland will increase convenience for our customers and demonstrates our commitment to the New Zealand market.” The new joint service and revised flight schedules are subject to regulatory approvals. Tickets for the new Auckland-Singapore service will be on sale from tomorrow (8 December 2017). | A joint airline release || December 7, 2017 |||