Qantas CEO Sees Opportunity For 737 MAX To Join Qantas Fleet

The 737 MAX could be joining the Qantas fleet. That’s according to remarks made last week by the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce. The Qantas chief sees the opportunity for a bargain with benefits for both Qantas and Boeing.

Qantas is reported to be considering the 737 MAX to replace its existing 737-800 fleet. Photo: Qantas News Room.

Qantas looking to replace existing 737-800 fleet

Qantas operates 75 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These narrowbodies are the workhorse of the airline’s domestic fleet. However, they are starting to age. Last year, several Qantas 737s were grounded when cracks were found in their pickle forks.

The airline is looking to start replacing these 737-800 aircraft. On the airline’s metaphorical radar are aircraft from the A320 family and the 737 MAX. However, there’s the obvious issue of the 737 MAX having been grounded for nearly a year following two crashes that killed 346 people.

Qantas operates a fleet of 74 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Photo: Qantas News Room.

While some people lack confidence in the 737 MAX and question whether it will ever take to the air again, Mr Joyce is not one of the doubters. He made the following remarks in speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald:


“Qantas itself will put the MAX aircraft through its own lens to make sure we are comfortable with it.

“If you look at it from an opportunity point of view, given the aircraft is going to be very safe, what will Boeing do to get the safest airline in the world to buy the aircraft?”


Parlaying reputation for a bargain

Mr. Joyce’s strategy appears to harness the credibility of being the world’s safest airline to drive a hard bargain with Boeing. Assuming Boeing irons the bugs out with the 737 MAX and it gets the all-clear to fly again, a purchase by Qantas will be an endorsement worth its weight in gold.

The strategy is contingent on a few factors. Firstly, it’s important that the wider market shares the same view of Qantas’ safety record and its currency that Mr. Joyce does. Secondly, Qantas must be able to overcome some wider passenger concerns about the 737 MAX. It may take more than a slick marketing campaign to sway some folks to board a MAX flight again.

Alan Joyce plans to drive a hard bargain with Boeing if the order goes ahead. Photo: Getty Images.

But the mere fact that the 737 MAX is still in the mix at Qantas will cheer Boeing.

Qantas has been a good long term customer for the American aircraft manufacturer. But more and more Airbus aircraft are now sporting the red kangaroo livery. Most recently, Qantas selected the Airbus A350-1000 over the Boeing 777X for its Project Sunrise aircraft. Wholly-owned subsidiary Jetstar features an almost entirely A320 fleet.

A lot of people back the A320’s chances

Given the success of the A320 program and the fact that Qantas was already familiar with it, there has been speculation that the A320 is the natural choice to replace the Boeing 737-800s.

Qantas had expressed interest in the proposed Boeing 797 aircraft, deeming it a good aircraft to use on the busy south-east triangle routes. But the 797 remains in the planning stages. In fact, Boeing is reported to be reconsidering the aircraft altogether.

Through Jetstar, Qantas is already familiar with the A320. Photo: Jetstar News Room.

Mr. Joyce’s admission that he was thinking about the 737 MAX as a replacement aircraft may surprise some. But Qantas thinks that once the aircraft overcomes its problems, it will be a very reliable and safe plane.

It is a very ‘Joycian’ move to seize an opportunity like this. Qantas takes its safety reputation very seriously. It offers the airline a gold plated competitive advantage. To offer to spread a little of that reputational fairy dust on a brand that is seriously tarnished will probably prove very expensive for Boeing.

The question for Boeing will be: “is it worth it?”

Do you think Alan Joyce is making a smart move with his comments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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The 320neo has a proven safety record but the 737max will probably be very highly discounted.


I wonder what this will do to public perception of the airline. Qantas has been marketed as the “safest airline”, while everyone by now knows that the MAX is an “unsafe plane”. No matter what is done, those two connections have been formed in the minds of many people, and it will be interesting to see what people think about Safe Airlines buying the Unsafe Plane.


After all said and done, the 737 Max could end being one of the best aircraft ever !!!! Hopefully corporate America pays close attention to all the drama it created over being GREADY !!!

David G

Agree with Martin, Gary and Joe. Maybe Qantas should wait 6-12 months after the Max starts flying again to gauge any customer resistance and safety problems. A Max go ahead would certainly save on crew retraining costs, and you can bet Boeing will ensure their deal will beat an A320 deal. Like most airlines, Qantas will say that safety comes first, but they don’t tell you this only comes after the accountants have had their say.
I wouldn’t like to be in Boeing’s boots after the first (modified) Max is lost, particularly if it’s in the first 5-15 minutes after take off.


One of my best friends is a ‘mad Boeing fan’. Even he wants Qantas to buy the A320. Maybe the MAX is a cheaper option given current sentiment, but as a customer, the MAX will always be a plane I want to avoid. How will the load factors be if a lot of customers decide to avoid it as well?

Jason Scott Ashby

Would be the last choice he’ll make !! Wouldn’t get me one


Mr. Joyce’s boast of “…safest airline in the world…” is at best, braggadocio tempting tempting fate. Scary.

As for Qantas, perhaps Boeing will have a “buy one, get three free” offer on the MAX. A Qantas buy might help sales as they are a safe airline because of being one of the most technically competent airlines around.

This could be a win-win…

David McCormack

I will not fly in the 737 max


Historically Joyce has been pretty spot on. While the A320 seems to be a good choice, Qantas has a lot of 737s to replace. With the current state of the Max, they’ll likely get huge discounts which would likely work out cheaper than anything Airbus could do. Moreover it’s probably easier to get existing 737NG pilots rated for the Max than training pilots for the A320. After all the scrutiny, the Max will probably be one of the safest planes in the sky. I wouldn’t be surprised however if Qantas opted for a large airbus order with A321XLRs, which would make sense given the delays in the 797 NMA program. Its probably going to come down to when the planes will be delivered and the price, which I think could lean towards Boeing


Anybody a little tired of Joyce at Quantas, Walsh over at IAG and O’Leary at Ryanair?


Boeing better first get it’s production issues under control – according to Time, 35 out of 50 Max’s in Renton were found with tools, rags and other c**p in their fuel tanks. 70%!!

The software, the wiring (which they want overlooked), the slats, FOD in the fuel tanks…count me as one of those who will wait a couple of years before setting foot on a Max.


WHAT IS QANTAS COMING TO ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Keith Bensley

Would be highly doubtful if the public will ever trust the 737 Max considering more problems and cover ups appear almost daily.

Neil W

This is is ploy to keep pricing pressure on Airbus who can also offer the A220 as part of a package.

George L

Definitely a smart move. This could help in multiple negotiations: Qantas is still trying to figure out extra-long flights with A350’s and the 777x just becomes more and more likely to actually fill that role. Then there’s the 797 project too. Alaska has already stated the MAX will be the big piece of their future and BA is likely to buy a bunch for Gatwick. Qantas better get on that quick, while the discounts still exist.


I would like to see If he will fly his entirely family on a 737max and the same for the Boing CEO


It’s a no brainer and would be a win win for Joyce to purchase the 737 MAX for QANTAS. He will get them for peanuts and won’t have to go through the major expensive hassle of retraining current 737 800 pilots, Engineering, flight planners, load controllers, checkin staff, catering, ramp ground handlers and baggage if the A320’s are seriously considered.


Don’t do it, there a bad plane

Ernest Phelps

How does he know that this would be the safer aircraft. They just made both CPUs (FCUs) talk to each other! Zillions of glitches possibilities. Luckily I don’t live in Australia. So I’m not to be a guinea pig in this old and overstretched plane.


Bad move. What this all means is that for a bargain price, Qantas is willing to sacrifice passenger safety. Isn’t this EXACTLY Boeing’s corporate culture of cost cutting Vs quality? And look where it got them. To say that eventually, if the MAX flies again it should be very safe is all hot air or at best risky assumption. I’m not betting my life based on risky assumption. So if Qantas is following Boeing’s philosophy, I’m not flying Qantas ever.

jennifer RAMM

If this goes ahead its a very bad decision,


Will profit over ride safety again? Public may never be happy with Boeing. Airbus is best for Quantas.

david johnson

I will never fly on those planes.


Not flying Quantas anymore.


If you put a young man’s heart into an old man’s body, at some point, it will break down. Although everything is replaced, the aircraft is not designed for this. Unless they re design the whole aircraft all over again, the aerodynamics are out…


It’s not the plane you trust, it’s the two people up the front. The 737 Max has flown for months in US service (with competent pilots) safely. I wouldn’t have flown Lion Air even before their fraudulent service and incompetent pilot training caused the first 737 Max crash. Boeing’s mistake was to trust that the pilot is more than just a stick actuator…


Won’t be flying Qantas anymore if that happens


Joyce should go to Moscow and visit Irkut Corporation and discus the acquision of some MC21. Watch Airbus and Boing change diapers. The MC21 is the most advanced of the 3/3 single aisles with a composite wing, AlLi fuselage.


This is either very dumb or very smart. Boeing will probably offer ‘buy one, get one free’ to get the Qantas halo effect but will the Australian domestic buying/flying public buy it?
As a tactic to bring downward pressure on Airbus pricing it might be turn out to brilliant! At the moment Q flies the 737-800 (with some A330ceo – great!) and A320ceo with Jetstar with a bunch of A320/321neo on order.

I will never fly on 737-max and I think a lot of the Australian flying might think the same. It take decades to gain the halo, a second to lose it. Mr Joyce, don’t do it!


Lets play a game. Assume….that after a years worth of (deserved) scrutiny….the 737 is at last, AS SAFE as its predecessor, the NG. Qantas could have a real good deal on its hands!

Issues with Boeing’s cooperate culture aside, the MAX was a death trap for one real reason….MCAS. The plane is fine, the engines are fine….when you put them together it created an issue that Boeing tried and failed to manage. Assuming that issue has been managed….then….I really don’t see the issue.

noel wong

Does not matter which airlines fly the max 737 aircraft, our family have lost confidence in this Aircraft series the max 737 and we will never fly on them, no matter if they fix the problems, just to be onboard and worry if they are safe is the problem, so those who want to fly on them that’s their own rights and if all the Airlines fly thrm, and they are the only aircraft going anywhere then We don’t fly anymore!

Naveen Juneja

His move is a stratagem

Naveen Juneja

It is indeed a well thought out stratagem


The comments on these MAX articles are comical and so dramatic. So many people who claim they understand aircraft yet have no clue what they are talking about. The MAX will be 100% safe when it is cleared to fly. The people who claim they will not fly on them are foolish and probably don’t realize that several of the aircraft they fly on have been grounded for a period of time to fix some problem. The MAX is still a great aircraft…Boeing just tried to play too many games and cut corners. Obviously the company did not purposefully create an aircraft that was not safe and they have come a long way to be transparent and focused on fixing the problems (MAX & company culture). Many airlines will fly the MAX and many of us can’t wait to see it back in the air!

Lee Taylor

SW airlines utilizes more 737 aircraft than anyone else, they were flying the 737-800max before the faa grounding them, with no problems. But, they are also the largest carrier to train pilots. I can see the ceo of Qantas wanting to make adeal with Boeing, could be a win-win for both.
Still, its amazing that the Boeing hierarchy made such a b**e headed decision on the 800 max software!


The MAX will be cheap. But it will never be a good aircraft – just marginal, at best. And inferior to the A320neo series.


Then I will not fly with Quantas. They will be supporting the profit before safety disease. We’ve had enough of that.

Patrick Hainsworth

I will never board a Boeing 737 MAX regardless of any approval from the FAA! I often fly from Cebu Philippines to US cities and I only will get on an Airbus. It’s crystal clear that neither Boeing, nor the US regulatory agencies can be trusted again. BTW I am a US citizen.