Qantas fleet plans

Qantas has introduced the Boeing 787-9 into service, and the airline is assessing several other aircraft types for its future leet needs. Qantas

Qantas Group revealed more about its thinking on future leet options while presenting its full year 2017-2018 financial results. The company laid out the aircraft it is examining for different areas of the market in a presentation slide entitled ‘Pathway for Fleet Transition to Next-generation Aircraft Technology’.

The slide shows the group is evaluating the Airbus A220 and Embraer E-Jet E2s for its Qantas Domestic operation to replace 75 Boeing 737NGs. The A321LR, 737 MAX and Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane proposal are also “under evaluation”.

The slide noted Qantas already has an existing order of 99 A320 aircraft, including 18 A321LRs that will be delivered to its Jetstar unit from 2020. It confirmed both the A350 Ultra Long-Range version and the Boeing 777-8 are being assessed to meet its Project Sunrise requirement for an aircraft capable of flying non-stop from Australia’s eastern coast to London and New York.

In a section of the presentation about the Qantas International business, the airline’s long-haul unit, the group said introducing the Boeing 787-9 to services, including the direct Perth- Heathrow route started earlier this year, to replace the 747-400s has already had an impact, with Chief Executive Oicer Alan Joyce noting high load factors and the return of the UK operation to profitability. Qantas said the future growth of the Dreamliner leet to its eventual 14-strong complement, combined with the accelerated retirement of 747-400s (all of which will be phased-out by the end of 2020), promises “more to come” in terms of improved earnings, lower fuel costs and “opening up new network opportunities”.

Cabin refurbishments on QantasLink’s 45 Dash 8-series turboprops and Jetstar A320s are underway. Half of the 75-strong Boeing 737NG leet has been upgraded with Wi-Fi connectivity for passengers and this capability is now being rolled out on the 28 A330s. All 12 A380s are set to receive refurbished cabins from next year. The airline has said upgrades will begin in July 2019, with eight aircraft set to be completed in 2019 and the other four by mid-2020. Joyce said this means Qantas will have a consistent in-light product across its long-haul fleet by 2020. Mark Broadbent