Fleet Snapshot: The Qantas A330s

Qantas Airbus A330s remain a regular sight at many Australian and Asian airports, normally flying domestic and international short to medium-haul flights. Nowadays, eight of the 28 strong fleet are parked. But that still leaves the bulk of the fleet flying. In this fleet snapshot, we’ll take a look at what Qantas A330s are in the air and where they are flying.

Qantas has a fleet of 28 Airbus A330s, of which 20 are in the air. Photo: Qantas

Eight Qantas A330s parked, 20 A330s in the air

On the ground is a sole A330-300 (VH-QPF Esperance) and seven A330-200s. Those seven planes are VH-EBA Cradle Mountain, VH-EBB Albany, VH-EBD Traralgon, VH-EBK Savannah Way, VH-EBN Clare Valley, VH-EBO Kimberley, and VH-EBR Lockyer Valley.

VH-EBA, VH-EBK, VH-EBN, VH-EBO, and VH-QPF all appear to be parked in Sydney.  The remaining three planes, VH-EBB, VH-EBD, and VH-EBR, are reported to be parked in Brisbane.

Information regarding flight moments and aircraft status is provided by online aircraft database, RadarBox.com. VH-EBC Surfers Paradise, an A330-200, has primarily been flying domestic flights. The plane landed in Melbourne (MEL) on Monday evening, having operated QF780 from Perth (PER). VH-EBE Kangaroo Valley, an A330-200, is also sticking to domestic flying in July. The Airbus flew Perth – Sydney – Perth on Monday.

Another A330-200, VH-EBF King Valley, most recently flew Sydney – Melbourne as QF7702 on the weekend but had been doing a bit of trans-Tasman flying this month. VH-EBG, Barossa Valley, another A330-200, is also sticking to domestic flying, making appearances in Cairns (CNS), Darwin (DRW), Sydney (SYD), Melbourne and Perth over July. VH-EBG most recently flew Melbourne – Perth as QF783 on Monday.

Qantas is keeping most of its A330s busy flying selected passenger and cargo services. Photo: Qantas

Qantas A330-200s focus on domestic flying

VH-EBJ Margaret River, an A330-200, had a busy Monday. It flew five sectors, including Darwin to Melbourne, Melbourne to Cairns, Cairns to Melbourne, Melbourne to Sydney, and Sydney to Melbourne. Not so busy is VH-EBK Savannah Way. The A330-200 landed in Sydney from Auckland (AKL) on July 15 and has sat idle since. Until then, the plane had a steady roster of domestic flights. RadarBox.com marks the plane as now parked.

VH-EBL Whitsundays, an A330-200, is flying up to Cairns from Melbourne on Tuesday morning and will operate the return afternoon flight. On Monday, the Airbus flew from Sydney to Melbourne, onto Perth, and then back to Melbourne. VH-EMB Tamar Valley arrived in Hong Kong (HKG) late on Monday afternoon, having operated a cargo flight. Qantas A330s continue to fly cargo in and out of HKG regularly.

VH-EBP Ningaloo Reef, an A330-200, flew Sydney – Melbourne on Tuesday morning. The plane has spent much of July darting up and down Australia’s east coast, with occasional forays across to Auckland. VH-EBQ Wolgan Valley spent Monday operating Qantas’ new widebody passenger flights between Brisbane and Darwin. The A330-200 flew Brisbane – Darwin – Brisbane on Saturday and Monday.

Over the last few days, VH-EBS Swan Valley has operated a roster of flights between Auckland, Melbourne and Perth. At the time of publication, the A330-200 is in the air, flying between Perth and Melbourne as QF7329. The last of Qantas’ A330-200s is VH-EBV Kangaroo Island. The plane has operated several few Sydney – Darwin – Sydney flights lately. But on Monday, VH-EBV flew to Perth, where it overnighted before operating QF7323 back to Sydney on Tuesday morning.

Qantas A330 flying hours still fall short of 2019 levels. Photo: Qantas

Cargo focus for many Qantas A330-300s

The first of the A330-300s is VH-QPA Kununurra. The aircraft operated QF146 from Auckland to Sydney on Monday. Interspersed with domestic flights, VH-QPA has flown several cargo flights to Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita (NRT) in July. Most of those cargo flights originated in Brisbane.  The second A330-300 is VH-QPB Tennant Creek. The plane flew dull Melbourne – Sydney – Melbourne sectors on Monday but has also operated cargo flights to Hong Kong, Singapore (SIN) and Nuku’alofa (TBU) over the last week.

VH-QPC Broken Hill is in Melbourne on Tuesday morning, having operated QF7328 down from Brisbane. Last Tuesday, VH-QPC operated a Sydney – Shanghai (PVG) cargo flight. The return service to Sydney ran on Thursday. On Sunday, VH-QPD Port Macquarie flew a cargo flight up to Tokyo Narita from Brisbane. The A330-300 operated the return service on Monday, flying as QF62.

VH-QPE Port Lincoln is a rare Qantas plane. It is mostly flying international services at the moment. The A330-300 now spends a lot of its time crisscrossing the Tasman Sea but last week fitted in a Sydney – Shanghai – Sydney cargo service. Shanghai is a popular port for Qantas A330s. VH-QPG Mt Gambier flew up from Sydney on Saturday and returned on Monday as QF130. Like VH-QPE, Mt Gambier is primarily flying international routes.

A Qantas A330-300 flying high. Photo: Getty Images

VH-QPH Noosa is mostly now flying trans-Tasman services. The A330-300 whizzed down to Christchurch (CHC) from Auckland on Tuesday morning. The plane then headed over to Sydney and onwards to Melbourne. Brisbane-based VH-QPI Cairns flew Brisbane – Cairns on Tuesday morning. Recently, the plane has spent its days flying between Brisbane and Auckland.

Last but not least is VH-QPJ Port Stephens. The A330-300 touched down in Darwin shortly before publication time, having operated QF824 from Brisbane. Over the weekend, VH-QPJ operated Brisbane – Cairns, Cairns to Tokyo Narita, and back to Brisbane. It’s a three-stage sector VH-QPI is likely repeating today.

A decent amount of flying for Qantas A330s

The snapshot reveals a relatively decent level of flying for most of Qantas’ A330s. The flying roster is not comparable with 2019 levels, but most A330 are getting some time in the air. That means crews are also flying, and pilots keep clocking up hours.

A few notable patterns do emerge. Qantas is primarily using its A330-300s to operate international cargo flights and deploying the A330-200s domestically. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is a trend. Many of those cargo flights operate using existing flight numbers formerly used on passenger flights. A casual observer tracking flights might be surprised to see QF22 flying between Tokyo and Sydney. Or they could form the view Qantas was back flying passengers in and out of Japan – but that’s not the case. These are cargo flights.

There also appear to be a lot of irregular ferry flights around Australia. Not all the domestic flights running are taking passengers. Many are repositioning flights. Given the state of Australia’s internal borders, Qantas would have a tough time filling an A330-200 between, say, Sydney and Melbourne or Melbourne and Perth.

But passengers or not, most of Qantas A330s are in the air. It’s a piece of good news for the people flying and maintaining them.