To me the press release is saying "we're not so sure anymore that this project will proceed.
If we proceed, the A350-1000 will be our preferred aircraft."
As there is no chance that QF would make the mistake of announcing a winning bidder before the contract is signed, I think that you guys should start to give up the idea.
This is a clean way to close this chapter.
I also doubt that PER-LHR will continue for very long with the B789.
They won't close it down right away to save face, they'll probably put the A380 1-stop (via PER?) back and we'll all pretend that this whole fantasy thing didn't happen.
Why would PER-LHR stop when it's Qantas' most efficiently yielding route in the network? The load factor for all classes is above 93% year round. Alan Joyce would have to have a lobotomy to close the route prior to PS taking off.
If we may believe QF, that may HAVE BEEN true in the wake of the highly publicised launch.
We don't know if that's the case still now.
The mere fact that QF is showing hesitation after screaming success initially shows that there is something cooking, and it ain't something tasty.
After the launch of PER-LHR they weren't exactly lining up this many maybe's.
Like I said, this is a flagship route.
If you have too small an aircraft on the route, even if you have a more desirable itinerary, you don't dictate yields anymore. If all your competitors push their yields down, you have to follow. There will always be a few who'll pay anything you ask, but they're going to be a minority. The majority have to work with budgets and their time is not valuable enough to justify a major cost difference.
In addition, many people don't understand how yield management works in a multiclass operation. Economy class and business class work in tandem, one helping the other depending on the time of the week, the month or the year.
When QF presented their A380, it looked like the interior of a KC10 or some other military transport, with kaki green seats. Their new seats on their new B789 C class are also not comparable to the thrones that you get on SQ's new A380 or EK's A380 C class.
At the end of the day, it's a matter of value, and that value becomes questionnable when you compete with a ok product against the likes of SQ and EK where their whole business model revolves around offering value.
Most self-made riches won't throw away their money, they expect value for their money. They'll pay more for something if it's worth it, but they won't pay more for less value, or at least not twice.
PER-LHR may have been successful initially, but I doubt that they're seeing many returning guests or at least not at the price points that they would like to see. There will always be a few die-hards, not enough to make a living though and I expect QF to come back to LHR with 2 A380's sooner rather than later.
The A380 can also operate MEL-PER-LHR, but I'm not sure that this is the best combination.
Other options are MEL-SIN-LHR, MEL-HKG-LHR(not now but when things get settled), MEL-BKK-LHR(seems low yielding), MEL-HND-LHR (detour but could be worth the higher yields) or even going direct MEL-LHR with the A380 with 300 pax with an ultra-premium, high value cabin.