Being the last week of the year, it is a good time to look at what is going on with the Qantas fleet. What’s flying and what’s not? Diving into the numbers, you might be surprised. While planes are still parked, it is possibly fewer than you expected.
As 2020 wraps up, Qantas has 133 planes in its fleet. If you include QantasLink, you can add another 95 planes, taking the total to 228 planes. Overall, 69.3% of the fleet is in the air, although whether all these planes are working as hard as they did in 2019 is debatable. Breaking the numbers down, 82.1% of the QantasLink planes are in the air. That’s a testament to the resilience of regional and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) flying. In contrast, 60% of the main Qantas fleet is in the air. However, the long term grounding of most of Qantas’ international fleet is pushing that figure down.
QantasLink with most of its planes in the air
In terms of QantasLink, there are four types of aircraft in the fleet – Airbus A320s, Boeing 717s, De Havilland Dash 8s, and Fokker F70s and F100s. All 17 of the Fokkers are in service. Those planes mostly do FIFO work out to the mines and gas fields. QantasLink has eight Airbus A320s, and all but one are flying. Those Airbus aircraft fly much the same routes as the Fokkers.
Seventeen of QantasLink’s 20 Boeing 717s are in service. They also do some mining work. In addition, the 717s fly regular fare-paying passengers on the more lightly trafficked east coast trunk routes. QantasLink is keeping the 717s busy flying out of cities like Hobart, Canberra, and Brisbane. Finally, 37 of the 50 QantasLink Dash 8s are flying. These planes operate scheduled services, fanning out from the capital city airports to regional towns and cities. Because QantasLink is a “regional” airline, flying many intrastate routes, it has been less impacted by Australia’s internal border closures.
Qantas international routes suspended, Qantas international fleet grounded
At Qantas proper, aside from the general turmoil of 2020, the big stories were the grounding of Qantas international services and the permanent retirement of the Boeing 747. Qantas retired the jumbo jet mid-year. bringing a previously announced date forward. After nearly 50 of flying the aircraft and 65 planes, the last Qantas 747 set off for California in July.
Meanwhile, Qantas grounded all 12 of its Airbus A380s, saying it will be a few years before they come back into service. All of the A380s are in California. There’s speculation about the future of the Qantas A380 fleet. The likelihood is six freshly refurbished A380s will eventually come back into service, and the remaining unrefurbished A380s will not.
Qantas also has Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and Airbus A330s they use primarily for international flying. Seven of Qantas’ 11 Dreamliners are parked around the place. There are also a few Dreamliners in California which Qantas is yet to take delivery of. 10 of the 28 A330s are flying, although not at their normal pace. Qantas normally sends the A330s on transcontinental domestic routes to Perth and periodically runs them up and down Australia’s east coast. Moreover, the widebody is currently operating freighter missions.
The bulk of Qantas’ Boeing 737s in the air
The Boeing 737-800 is the workhorse of the Qantas domestic fleet. Right now, 64 of the 80 Boeing 737s are in the air. That’s not bad, especially considering the problems with Australia’s internal borders and the current refusal of other Australian states to accept passengers out of Sydney. However, it is unlikely many of these 737s are flying the hours they’d normally fly.
The good news is that most Qantas and QantasLink planes are in the sky – at least some of the time. The really good news is that more and more employees are getting back to work at the airline. The blackspot remains Qantas’ international fleet. No matter how much domestic flying picks up, Qantas doesn’t really expect its international fleet to go anywhere for a while yet.
What are your thoughts about Qantas’ fleet in 2021? Let us know what you think in the comment section.