Australia's Qantas Airways told pilots today that if it could not reach a pay deal soon covering the world's longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, it would form a lower-cost employment entity.

This is according to an internal memo from the airline. 

Qantas in December selected the Airbus SEA350-1000 as the preferred plane to launch the flights in the first half of 2023, but said an order for up to 12 jets was contingent on reaching a deal with pilots by March.

In an internal memo seen by Reuters, Qantas International head Tino La Spina said the end of March deadline for a pilot vote on the deal was firm. 

"Airbus extended the delivery slots one last time once they knew they were the preferred supplier, but they are not willing to continue their exposure beyond that point," he said.