Australia’s Qantas Airways has picked Airbus over Boeing as the preferred supplier for jets capable of the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, Reuters reports.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was quoted as saying that the airline has “a lot of confidence” in the market for non-stop services from Sydney to London and to New York based on two years of flying non-stop from Perth to London, where it has achieved a 30 percent fare premium over one-stop rivals in premium classes.
“The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience,” he said.
The choice of up to 12 A350-1000 planes fitted with an extra fuel tank for flights of up to 21 hours cements Airbus as the leader in ultra-long haul flying globally at a time when Boeing is battling delays on its rival 777X program and a broader corporate crisis following two deadly 737 MAX crashes, Reuters noted.
The Qantas flights will begin in the first half of 2023, but remain subject to the airline reaching a pay deal with pilots, who would need to extend their duty times to around 23 hours to account for potential delays and switch between flying the A350 and the airline’s current A330 fleet.
A final decision on an order is expected in March, the airline said on Friday.
Singapore Airlines operates the world’s current longest flight, nearly 19 hours from Singapore to New York, using an ultra-long range version of the smaller A350-900.
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer thanked Qantas for its selection in a statement, while a Boeing spokesman said the company was disappointed with the decision but looks forward to continuing its longstanding partnership with the Australian carrier.
Airbus no longer provides list prices for aircraft, but based on its 2018 price list, the Qantas order could be worth up to US$4.4 billion before heavy discounts that are standard for airline customers, Reuters noted.
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