Australia’s Qantas Airways has selected the European Airbus A350-1000 as the preferred aircraft for the 21-hour Sydney-London flight, the airline announced in a press release on Friday.
"No orders have been placed but Qantas will work closely with Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft ahead of a final decision by the Qantas board" in March 2020, said the carrier in a statement.
Qantas' Project Sunrise envisions non-stop flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to the UK and the US starting in 2023.
The A350-1000 aircraft, which is expected to fly passengers on routes that will take up to 21 hours, was chosen over the Boeing 777X.
The Australian company said the Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.
The carrier said it was continuing negotiations with Qantas pilots' union AIPA on "productivity and efficiency gains" as part of Project Sunrise.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the national carrier has huge experience with long-haul flights.
“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,” the CEO noted.
Currently the world's longest flight is operated by Singapore Airlines. The airline flies A350-900 nonstop between Singapore and Newark. The flight covers a distance of over 15 thousand kilometers and can take up to 19 hours.