Sydney (CNN) – When traveling more than two kilometers is a pipe dream beyond the reach of millions, it is not surprising that the mood is not right to go ahead with plans for 19-hour nonstop flight services between London and Sydney.
The flight is part of Qantas’ ambitious plan dubbed Project Sunrise which also includes nonstop services between New York and Sydney.
Described as chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce as the “last frontier” of commercial aviation, the world seems ready to usher in a new generation of ultra long-haul flights. The airline has been expected to announce a decision in recent weeks about whether to continue service.
Then Covid-19 appeared on the horizon.
Qantas flight QF7879 came to land at the record-breaking end of the flight.
James D Morgan / Qantas
“There is great potential for the Sunrise Project but the timing is not right now given the impact Covid-19 has on world travel,” Joyce said in a call to reporters on May 5, in a statement confirmed to CNN by Qantas.
“We clearly talked to Airbus about the 350s,” Joyce said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “When we are in the recovery phase of Covid-19, it is not right for us to order the large number of aircraft and capital expenditures needed.”
The project is still heavily dependent on airline radar, with Joyce describing Project Sunrise as “a long-term opportunity.”
All Qantas scheduled international flights are currently suspended, as is its subsidiary Jetstar. Together they have flown more than 150 aircraft, including all their A380, 747 and B787.
Qantas celebrates its 100th birthday in 2020. The airline’s original mission was to serve sparsely populated North Australia and the first aircraft was the Avro 504, a biplane before World War I that could accommodate a pilot and one passenger.
Barry Neild from CNN, Richard Quest, Michelle Toh, Lilit Marcus, and Miquel Ros contributed to this report.