The Future Of Qantas’ Fleet

Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia is one of the world’s leading airlines. But they don’t have a very young fleet when compared to Singapore, British Airways or Qatar. They currently heavily use the Boeing 737-800, the Airbus A330 and the A380, and are only now retiring the 747 for the 787 Dreamliner.

qantas-project-sunrise-2023.
Qantas needs to choose a new fleet lineup. Qantas.

But what will the Qantas fleet look like in the next decade, and have they dropped any clues as to which aircraft they may order next? Let’s investigate.

Watch our video on the topic where we predict the next three Qantas aircraft.

What is their next big order?

There are three major new fleet choices Qantas needs to make, leaking in a slide at the annual shareholders meeting earlier this year.

The first is their new widebody fleet for Project Sunrise. The second is to replace their old regional fleet And the last choice is what to replace their fleet of 737s with.

Project Sunrise is the name given to the Qantas’ goal to link Sydney and London with a direct route. Qantas has asked both Airbus and Boeing to provide an aircraft up for the task with a choice to be made later this year.

Airbus has pitched the unmodified A350-1000, whilst Boeing has decided on the long-range Boeing 777-8. Unfortunately, delays to the Boeing 777X program means the 777-8 is two or three years away at the least. Boeing did say that they offered Qantas an excellent deal to go with them.

Lastly, we should mention that Qantas is the only airline that the original Boeing 777 was designed for, who didn’t buy it. It’s, for this reason, we think Qantas will side with Airbus and order the A350-1000

Can you see this aircraft in Qantas livery? We can! Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

What about its regional fleet?

The second choice coming up for Qantas is its regional fleet. They currently operate a mix of Dash 8s, Boeing 717s, and Fokker F100s. The oldest aircraft in the fleet are pushing over 25 years old.

They need to replace these aircraft sooner than later and it looks like a showdown between the new Airbus a220 and the Embraer E2.

Qantas has been shy about which aircraft they like best, but we couldn’t help notice that Airbus flew in an Air Baltic A220 recently for Qantas to check out. Our prediction? That Qantas will order the A220 as part of the bigger A350-1000 order.

Further evidence for this is the recent news published by Australian Aviation. In their report, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce attended the Air Baltic A220 in Sydney and had the following remarks:

“To me, it looks like a very good aircraft. I think the passengers would love it. It feels very quiet, that’s one thing you do notice. Even the toilets are big.”

He went on to mention that he would consider the A220 if Airbus could offer a good price.

The A220-300 used for the Asian launch tour earlier in 2019. Image: Airbus

What is the final order Qantas needs to make?

Now for choice number three: replacing all of its Boeing 737 fleet.

It would have been a slam dunk for Boeing if not for the 737 MAX disaster which has so far grounded the type for over six months. Qantas is in no rush to make a choice for this aircraft and considering the alternative is the delayed A320, they might yet look at Boeing.

After all, Qantas’ rival Virgin Australia has 48 737 MAX aircraft on order (which it was deferred due to financial reasons, although the timing is a little suspect). Qantas did recently order the Airbus A321XLR at the Paris Air Show so perhaps they are looking to see how the A320neo performs.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Richard Allison

Airbus are modifying the a350 1000 just a higher mtow variant

Jai Kumar

I think wants go

Jai Kumar

I think qants sould go for Airbus aircrafts they're the best Airbus also has good safety record

Reggie

No, it has been confirmed that there will be no changes to the current A350-100

In-Frequent Flyer

You should’ve also mentioned that Qantas had regretted not buying any 777s when they chose Airbus (who according to an older article had involved a bit of arm twisting on Airbus part). With the A380 ceasing production, and with the routes Qantas has, the 777 would be perfect. Plus, Boeing was offering a modified 777-9 until the 8 is ready. Either way, a standard A35K doesn’t sound too enticing unless they mod it in some way. No word of a ULR though, and with a 787-9 being used for Perth to London, Qantas could be leaning more towards Boeing.

Phil

I’m pretty glad Qantas never got the 777 and I hope they never will because they’ll most likely then follow the trend other airlines have been doing and ram 10 seat abreast economy onto the 777! Worst aircraft for economy quite frankly!

In-Frequent Flyer

Not all airlines cram an extra seat into economy for their 777s. Plus, the 777x was made for 10 abreast seating unlike the current generation which was meant for 9.

Phil

Well let’s see what passengers think when they have the choice of having to sit in a 10 abreast economy for god knows how long! I reckon Boeing should have perhaps tried to make a 787-10ER type aircraft. Now that would have been a perfect fit for Qantas.

In-Frequent Flyer

Phil, I don’t think you even realize how wide the 777x is…

Neil

The 777-9 that Boeing is offering Qantas it not modified – it is a standard aircraft but will be limited to 300 passengers to achieve the required range. Boeing are offering big discounts to get Qantas over the line.
The future of the 777-8 is uncertain and there is no guarantee that the 777-8 will be built at all.

The 350-1000 is already flying mitigating any risk associated with delayed or cancelled development.

In-Frequent Flyer

I don’t doubt the 777-8 will come, even if it takes a few years. Those with 772 LRs are gonna need something to replace it. I’d be more concerned with a 777-10 not being built, because that’s definitely up in the air.

Plus, while the A350 is flying already, it’s still too soon to say Qantas would go for it. They could’ve taken the 900 ULR for project sunset, but chose the 789.

Reggie

I personally think that there will be A350-1000 and A220 for the long range and regional respectivaly. The 737-800s don’t need replacements immediatley. I personally think that Qantas would get the “797” or prhaps the 767X

Henning

Isn’t the 797 or the 767x to small to replace the oldest A330, I would guess they go for more 787 or A330neo

Reggie

The 767 would be too big. The possible best option would the 797 or A330neo

Harry M

The Max is a hard sell. Having a bundle of A320 on order for Jetstar my pick is to stay with it.

Henning

Qantas has actually a newer fleet on average than BA, a couple of years newer.

Lachlan

Qantas would probably love to get rid of its 737s and replace them with A320neos, but the enormous backlog is going to be a big problem. They might be tempted to replace both the regional fleet and the 737s with the A220. The -100 variant is a great fit for the regional fleet and the -300 could do some of the work of the 737s on smaller routes. Then the 797, A321, or A330neo could go the gruntwork on the big busy routes.