Qantas Defers Airbus A321LR and Boeing 787 Deliveries

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Qantas has told Airbus and Boeing that it will not be accepting any aircraft deliveries this year, pushing its new arrivals till 2021. Qantas was due to receive three Boeing 787s and a single Airbus A321LR this year.

Qantas 787
Qantas has delayed the delivery of its final three 787-9s. Photo: Getty

What are the details?

In a move to shore up cash and help prolong the life of the firm, Qantas has decided to defer deliveries of four new aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing. The Australian carrier was expecting several new planes in the remainder of 2020. Still, as it wouldn’t have had to pay until the aircraft were handed over and touched down in Australia, it pushed the physical deliveries until next year.

Specifically:

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  • Qantas has three Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order to be delivered by Christmas 2020.
  • Qantas’ carrier Jetstar also has the first of many Airbus A321LRs on order for 2020. The other 17 aircraft on order are due 2021 onwards.
Jetstar Qantas
The new Jetstar A321LR. Photo: Qantas

What was the purpose of these aircraft?

As reported by Executive Traveller, there were two different mission profiles for the two aircraft.

Qantas was going to use the Boeing 787-9s in its mainline full-service carrier (Qantas) to operate flights to Europe (from Perth) and the USA. They were also going to allow the retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet.

As it stands, the Boeing 747 fleet has been parked due to the aviation crisis, and the new routes have been put on the backburner. Qantas simply doesn’t need the Boeing 787-9s right now with demand so low.

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The Airbus A321LRs were destined for Qantas’ low-cost carrier Jetstar. The first of 18 A321LRs were due to be used on domestic routes (such as between Sydney and Melbourne, currently operated by A320-200s). The extra seating capacity would have boosted profits (232 seats on the A321LR vs 180 on the A320).

Additionally, the A321LR would have facilitated more flights to tropical destinations such as Bali. This route is currently served by Jetstar’s Boeing 787-8 fleet, which could be redeployed to destinations such as Hawaii or Japan. Or operate smaller thin routes that are growing in popularity, like Auckland to Cairns for New Zealand tourists.

Likewise, with the Qantas order, the Jetstar order is not needed as even now the carrier has its 787 fleets grounded and doesn’t need these new aircraft.

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Qantas
Qantas was set to operate the Brisbane-Chicago route four times a week with a Boeing 787-9. Photo: Getty Images

What is the outlook for Qantas?

Qantas has been struck by the virus and has been relying on government subsidies and taking out loans to survive the airline downturn. But it could be worse, Australian carrier Virgin Australia has not been so lucky and has gone into voluntary administration.

With the virus slowly winding down in Australia and New Zealand, there has been talk about reopening the borders between the two countries. This would instantly stimulate the two economies (just in time for New Zealand’s ski season) and get Qantas’ aircraft back in the air. Whether or not it will be enough for them to accept the delivery of these new aircraft in 2021 remains to be seen.

What do you think? Should Qantas do this? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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