Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. has chosen Airbus A350 over Boeing 777X as the preferred aircraft for its planned ultra long-haul flights called "Project Sunrise."
The announcement is a blow to Boeing Co., which continues to face criticism over its 737 MAX fleet that was grounded in March following two fatal crashes.
Qantas has postponed until March 2020 its decision on whether or not to proceed with the project, which is focused on operating nonstop commercial flights between the east coast of Australia, and New York and London.
The airline carrier has not placed any orders yet but plans to strike a deal for up to 12 aircraft, pending a final call by its board.
Qantas also said Airbus SE extended the deadline for confirming delivery slots by a month to March 2020. Qantas expects to utilize the extra time to negotiate a deal with its pilots without affecting the scheduled start date for the Project Sunrise flights in the first half of 2023, according to a press release.
Qantas expects to conduct the last of three Project Sunrise research flights on Dec. 17.