Qantas is set to place a huge narrowbody order, following their final decision for project Sunrise at the end of the year. The Australian airline is looking to replace (or future proof) 75 Boeing 737-800s and some regional aircraft. So far, there are three options on the table for the carrier. The Boeing 737 MAX, the Airbus A320 or perhaps a totally new design.
What are the details?
According to a recent article published by Bloomberg, Qantas has been approaching both Airbus and Boeing for new aircraft to suit their needs.
If you missed it, we recently made a video about the different orders that Qantas needs to make in the coming years.
Qantas currently operates around 75 Boeing 737-800 aircraft for its short-haul needs, as well as some quite old Boeing 717s and smaller regional aircraft. The latter of which would be perfectly replaced by the Airbus A220, reasons of which we will list here.
Will Qantas order the Boeing 737 MAX?
First, let us discuss the elephant in the room, the Boeing 737 MAX groundings. According to Alan Joyce, the Qantas CEO, he is confident Boeing will safely return the grounded jet to service. This is also echoed by Qantas’ rival Virgin Australia who has the type on order.
Qantas already operates the Boeing 737-800 and if the MAX somehow keeps its same type rating (which it previously did) then it would be an easy choice for the airline. They would not have to retrain all their pilots which would save them plenty of time and money.
The Boeing 737 MAX is arguably better suited for the Australian marketplace with its long thin routes. The range of the MAX outcompetes the A320 and likely Qantas could reach more destinations (especially all those islands in the Pacific) with the aircraft.
Plus there is not as much of a backlog for the type compared to the Airbus A320 series, which has a wait of around seven years per order.
Will Qantas order the Airbus A320neo?
On the other hand, what about the Airbus A320neo?
Qantas, through Jetstar, already operates 52 of the aircraft. Why not double down, get the neos and then make their entire Australian short-haul fleet one aircraft type? It would save money on training, maintenance and fleet renewals.
The A320neo is proven, cheap, affordable in bulk and well suited for the current routes that Qantas would use it for.
For a complete comparison between the Boeing 737 vs Airbus A320, click here.
Will Qantas order the Boeing 797?
The third option, of course, is whether or not Qantas is holding out their 100 airplane order for a new aircraft not yet built.
After all, at the Paris Air Show, they actually ordered the Airbus A321XLR indicating that they are looking for the newest technology as part of their fleet.
The Boeing 797 would suit the middle of the market well and help Qantas operate dense but short routes throughout the country, just like the notorious Sydney to Melbourne run (the second most dense route in the world). The additionally seating capacity of 200-250 seats per plane, but with the advantages of economics, turn around times and frequencies of smaller short-haul aircraft make it a delicious proposition indeed.
Overall, Qantas has been animate that they are still comparing all possible choices (although Mr. Joyce dropped his poker face when he was looking at the Airbus A220 the other day) and will begin to choose when they are ready. This does raise another question if Qantas is just interested in replacement or if they will order far more than the 100 aircraft that they need.
What do you think? Which should Qantas order? Let us know in the comments.