“There’s a number of hurdles, but I’m eternally optimistic.”
Work still to be done includes convincing Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority it is safe for pilots to fly for more than 19 hours, and negotiating a new pay deal with pilots. Qantas has said “productivity gains” were needed to make the routes viable.
However the union representing Qantas’ international pilots has signalled it will not be swayed by the promise of new aircraft and routes, while also questioning whether enough data is available to fully understand the risks of pilot fatigue on such long flights.
Mr Joyce said Qantas intends to maintain capital expenditure at about $2 billion a year as it introduces 109 Airbus A321neos to the fleet of its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, and also starts replacing its 75 domestic workhorse Boeing 737s over the next decade.
New jets to operate Sunrise flights sit outside of that forecast spending however. The aircraft that could complete the mission, Airbus’ A350-1000, has a list price of $US366 million ($533 million). And Boeing’s yet-to-fly 777X-8, which has a list price of $US410 million ($598 million). Large airline customers frequently negotiate discounts of up to 50 per cent off a list price.