The world’s longest flight may include a gym and bunk beds – with Cape Town targeted as a possible destination

Qantas Airways has pitted Boeing and Airbus up against each other in the hunt for aircraft to undertake unprecedented 20-hour trips halfway around the world.

According to Bloomberg, the Australian airline plans to fly non-stop from Sydney to New York and London by 2022 as part of a set of marathon routes that will be the world’s longest commercial services.

Qantas has previously indicated that if the first routes prove viable in 2022, direct connections from major cities in the Americas, Europe and Africa to Australia could follow.

The airline said that this could include possible trips to Cape Town in South Africa.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, said that he is squeezing the two airline manufacturers for every dollar to make ‘Project Sunrise’ viable.

“We’re going to have a great competition between Boeing and Airbus and that will help us make the business case work,” Joyce said.

“I had an executive from Boeing tell me it was like the space race, the first person to get to the moon.”

He added that both Boeing and Airbus have planes that can do the job.

A flight with a gym?

In a 2018 interview, Joyce indicated that these long-haul flights could differ drastically from current airline offerings, with cabin interiors geared toward surviving such marathon flights.

There’s scope to incorporate bunk beds, child-care facilities and even somewhere to work out, Joyce said.

“We’re challenging ourselves to think outside the box.”

“Would you have the space used for other activities – exercise, bar, creche, sleeping areas and berths? Boeing and Airbus have been actually quite creative in coming up with ideas.”

In a research report published by Qantas at the end of January, the airline indicated that stationary exercise bikes and virtual reality relaxation were also possibilities for futuristic long-haul flights.

The airline said it had been conducting focus group research as well as surveying customers as they step off the direct London to Perth services to capture their experience, suggestions and feedback.

CEO for Qantas International, Alison Webster, said the new research is showing increased interest towards physical wellbeing, state of mind and personal time and space.

“Customer feedback from the Perth to London flight has exceeded expectations, especially in relation to the time saved by skipping the traditional stopover and going direct to their destination,”she said.

“The engagement and enthusiasm we’re seeing from this research highlights how passionate our customers are to be a part of the evolution of ultra-long-haul travel.”

“Our job now is to determine where the most demand is and create this cabin in a way that makes it both affordable for customers and commercially viable for the airline. Everything is on the table and we are excited about what innovations may come from this research.”

The top five most frequent suggestions from customers for Project Sunrise include:

  • Provide ‘sense of separation’ experiences where passengers can be social but then “zone out” with either virtual reality relaxation zones, audio mindfulness experiences, or through the broader inflight entertainment;
  • Spaces to do gentle exercise/stretches, promoting circulation and comfort;
  • Wireless, noise cancelling headsets;
  • Innovative cabin designs across the entire aircraft, considering both seat and non-seat spaces to focus on a broad range of traveller needs including comfort, sleep, dining, entertainment and state of mind;
  • An inflight cafe offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages including wine, fresh juices, herbal teas and tisanes and mocktails along with snacks including dips with vegetable sticks as well as “treat foods”.

Read: This South African restaurant has been named the best in the world in 2019

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The world’s longest flight may include a gym and bunk beds – with Cape Town targeted as a possible destination