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            september 21, 2019

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Qantas to test 19-hour Sydney to New York and London flights


Qantas is preparing to test 19-hour, nonstop passenger flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on the east coast of Australia to New York and London.
The programme dubbed "Project Sunrise" will place scientists onboard the aircraft to evaluate the health of the maximum of 40 people (including crew) on the test flights and gather in-flight data. Researchers will monitor changes in the pilots' melatonin levels and brain wave patterns to test alertness.
The requirement to limit the flights to a maximum of 40 people, along with luggage and catering restrictions, is intended to minimise weight and increase the aircraft's range, reported New York's FreightWaves.
Qantas Group chief executive officer Alan Joyce said: "Ultra-long-haul flying presents a lot of common-sense questions about the comfort and well-being of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.
"For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight. For crew, it's about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximise rest during their downtime on these flights."
The programme will test three flights from October to December using re-purposed Boeing 787-9s.
FreightWaves' air cargo market expert Jesse Cohen believes that there is upside for this route in the cargo space as well. "Australia is a large market for air cargo given the long distances and sailing times to and from, Europe and North America in particular.
"There are large, established air cargo flows between Sydney and points like New York and London that are currently connecting or making stops along the way. Time savings is a key selling point for a lot of air cargo, and some would undoubtedly pay a nice premium for nonstop Sydney-New York and Sydney-London service," said Mr Cohen.
"Products like pharmaceuticals, lab samples, high-value products and other super-urgent shipments can often afford express-type pricing. The key on such ultra-long flights that stretch the range of today's aircraft fleets is what reliable and consistent payload is left for cargo.
"A lot depends on the passenger configuration, but hopefully Qantas' planners will consider the revenue contribution premium cargo could make here, if these flights being tested indeed go operational," Mr Cohen added.
Qantas said it has had talks with both Airbus and Boeing about aircraft capable of providing a "viable commercial payload" for the 19-hour voyage. The company will use the Project Sunrise test findings along with anticipated economics from the routes to make a final decision, which is expected by year-end.

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