The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is reporting on a speech Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made under Chatham House Rules to the Australian-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce in London on Tuesday.
Fairfax, the publisher of SMH and The Age, did not attend the event but received a leaked tape recording. The speech suggested that under Qantas’ Project Sunrise, the airline may create a new class – in the cargo hold. The class could involve train-like berths and possibly an exercise area for passengers.
The possibility comes as Qantas continues discussions with Airbus and Boeing for it’s Project Sunrise – a plane capabable of direct flights between Australia’s east coast and London as well as New York. The talks centre around the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 777-8X. Each would need modification to go the distance.
The SMH says Mr Joyce said that Qantas created Business Class in the 70’s and could be on the brink of creating a new class. It then quotes part of the tape: “One of the concepts that we have is maybe if we’re not carrying freight you do something lower where cargo is on the aircraft, do you have an area where people can walk? Do you have berths like on a train? There’s a lot of ‘out there’ thinking that’s going on. I don’t know if in 2022 if there’s another going to be another class but if there is Qantas is likely to be the airline that creates it.”
Fairfax later attended a lunch that Mr Joyce attended. The SMH says:
“Mr Joyce elaborated on the concept, saying ‘nothing is off the table’ when it comes to reimaging a potential new class of travel.
‘Could some of the freight areas that we may not use, be used as an exercise area?’ he asked.
‘The challenge for Airbus and Boeing is to do it with full passenger load and full freight load,’ Mr Joyce said in London on Tuesday. But in the event it is not possible to fly non-stop with both, Qantas would look to radically overhaul the cargo hold for passenger use.
Mr Joyce also said aviation regulators would have to change rules restricting how long pilots can fly for the long-haul routes to work.”
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) March 27, 2018
The paper also says that Mr Joyce revealed that no major airline makes money off First Class, with most customers using frequent flyer points for upgrades. At the same time he said there was a need for premium economy and the airline would never get rid of it.
Mr Joyce also said a return to direct European destinations for the airline are possible, depending on the success of the Perth-London route. Any expansion into other European destinations would be for those destinations with a big business market. However, the possibility was open for Qantas low cost carrier, Jetstar, to expand outside the Asia-Pacific region into the European leisure market.