QF Sunrise dawning?
Qantas continues to create anticipation of ultra long-haul services such as non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York, with three upcoming Boeing 787-9 delivery flights “re-purposed” to conduct research into improving passenger wellbeing. The initiative is part of planning for the airline’s Project Sunrise goal, with Airbus and Boeing both tasked with coming up with aircraft which could achieve the milestone.
Rather than flying with a skeleton crew from Seattle, the new 787s will be rerouted to travel via London and New York with about 40 people on board, to minimise weight and give the necessary fuel range. The passengers will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at various stages of the approximately 19-hour flights, with scientists to monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess the impact on health, wellbeing and circadian rhythms.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said a final decision on Project Sunrise, contingent on aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements, was expected by the end of the year. The research flights were announced alongside QF’S annual results for 2018/19, revealing a 17% drop in underlying profit before tax to $1.3 billion. Revenue jumped 4.9% to a record $17.9 billion, and the company paid out $32 million to about 25,000 non-executive employees each of whom received a $1,250 staff travel bonus.