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Sunday 7 November 2021

Long-haul non-stop flights between Australia and London and New York still on the Qantas agenda

Qantas still has plans to activate its "Project Sunrise" ultra-long haul flights between eastern Australian hubs and London and New York.

After two years of uncertainty, the world’s longest non-stop flights remain part of the airline’s plans.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told CNN the Australian flag carrier will re-examine the ultra-long haul routes next year with an aim of launching them within two to three years.

Project Sunrise remains "in the pipeline" Joyce said, but the immediate focus for Qantas is returning to normal after Covid-19 and refreshing its domestic fleet.

In an interview this week with CNN's Richard Quest, Joyce said: "We still have Project Sunrise in the pipeline, which is our ability to fly from Sydney and Melbourne to the last horizon, the last tyranny of distance, direct into London, direct into the east coast of the United States.

"That will be a unique value proposition that no other airline in the world will be offering."

Joyce says the airline plans to order a series of modified Airbus A350-1000 jets - with extra fuel tanks to increase the range of the aircraft - to service the routes.

Originally, the ultra long-haul routes were set to launch in 2022 or 2023. But with the pandemic decimating the global aviation industry, forcing airlines to shift to survival mode, the project was put on hold.

The name "Project Sunrise" was inspired by clandestine World War II flights that were made from Perth to Sri Lanka en route to London.

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