Qantas Interested In 100+ Narrowbody Plane Order

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.

Qantas operates 75 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Photo: Qantas News Room.

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?

Virgin Australia
A 737 MAX in Virgin Australia livery. Photo: Virgin Australia

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?

Airbus A320
Qantas could order the neo as their next-generation aircraft Photo: Airbus

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.


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qantas should go airbus it would make more sense after max problem


Qantas would have to be mad to wait form the 797 if it ever comes plus if the 797 follows in it brother’s steps it will have software problems and engine problems a door might blow off and more.
The airbus A321XLR would make way more sense

plus i would rather fly with an A321XLR that a old crappy 737NG that have pickle fork cracks


Qantas should take up the a320neo orders that were meant for Jetstar and order more to then replace Jetstars current a320s. It would be more cheaper, the delivery would be quicker and it would be more a more consistent fleet.

As for the regional aircraft perhaps the new Bombardier aircraft that United Airlines currently has might be a good option. It’s cheaper than the a220 and it would be a shorter delivery time.

The a321XLR might also be good too for launching new international flights from smaller cities in Australia (eg Adelaide to Singapore or Canberra to Auckland)


I agree with the commentators above who think Qantas should go for Airbus.
However, Boeing (desperate as it is) will probably offer Joyce a whole bunch of MAXs at cost price if he concurrently agrees to take the 777-8 for Project Sunrise. Will Joyce take it? Ask Willie Walsh…


Wouldn’t say that 737max outcompetes the A320neo exactly, it has 50 NM longer range in the standard version. If it’s range Qantas need they can just use some 321lr/xlr, the 737max has nothing that can come near that range


Yah – I saw that then had a look at the ranges:

The Max 8 & 9 fly 6570 km and the A320 Neo flies 6500 km. I’m guessing the Max 7 & A319 are off the table, having been killed by the A220, and the Max 10 flies 6110 km.

If it’s range you want, you look no further then the A321LR & XLR which will fly you 7400 & 8700 km.

Not too sure what Nicholas was talking about, here


He’s talking about the CEO, which of course makes no sense as it would be the NEO vs the Max.


Philippine Airlines has a new A321neo with PW1100G engines. It easily does the 3385NM Manilla to Sydney run with 182 passengers (of which 12 are lie flat business class) by fitting an removable ACT (Additional Centreline Tank). It did Manilla to Melbourne but the route became so popular they had to switch to a A330. If you want more range than the A321LR can take 3 x ACT and has the increased take-off weight to lift the extra fuel without compromising passenger numbers and cargo weight. The A321 can carry 9 LD3-46 containers and each ACT takes up one space.… Read more »

aubrey sean patel

I think the boeing 797 would actually be the best option here especially when we take into consideration exactly how and where they would want to use these planes.


…and what aircraft is that? You have any specifications as to seating capacity, range, price…what it looks like? Entry into service? Thanks


I’ve read that Boeing is not going forward with the 797/NMA at this time. So, there’s no there there.


They haven’t made the call yet, so not sure what you read, but it had no factual basis.


As they did with IAG I think Boeing will offer the 737 MAX at a price too good to turn down. Having a large order from Qantas “the worlds safest airline” showing confidence in their plane would be great PR. As for Qantas by the time they receive their allocation the MAX will have be in service with other alines for long enough to satisfy the majority of passengers. But as for those who aren’t keen to fly the MAX, the Australian domestic market is a duopoly, with Virgin Australia also having the MAX, this negates the risk of consumers… Read more »


Unless Max will take a third dive, the final one.


I actually agree with you here. Boeing will pull every bribe out of the hat to tempt Qantas and they’ll fall for it!


We’ll see if they have learned from the likes of SouthWest and RyanAir. Having an entire fleet from one OEM is a tricky business…


Virgin doesn’t have any Max’s yet. It has also deferred the 8’s until 2025 and switched out some for the 10’s – which apparently doesn’t have MCAS. Methinks there are also more changes to come, vis a vis this Max order.


Agree, though I expect Joyce will do some public spruiking of the A32x to let Boing know they need to offer steep discounts…. For groups with Full Service and LCC Brand’s, interesting proposition whether to go all in with one family, and realise the associated savings and efficiencies in maintenance and support, or stick with mixed fleet and trade Boeing and AB off against each other every time they have fleet renewal or growth. IAG appear to be going down this route (if they actually firm up the options) SQ have too with SilkAir / Scoot. Wouldn’t be surprised to… Read more »


Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Boeing. But how is it possible that airline CEO’s are still considering the 737 MAX?

Everyone can make design flaws, but Boeing deliberately installed just one sensor for MCAS and they deliberately kept MCAS out of the manuals. Pilots didn’t even knew it existed!

How is possible that there are no criminal charges against the people who are responsible for this mess?


Agreed. I wouldn’t want any part of owning that lemon. Sure, Boeing will have things sewn up to the satisfaction of the FAA and other aviation authorities. But it will still be a flawed design that stretched a 50+ year old design a bit too far. Far enough that it needs software to deal with the handling/balance quirks of the hollywood-style plastic surgery that Boeing did to make this viable for the marketing people.

Qantas should take a hard pass on the MAX.


I personally think the 797 would be a great idea for them after retiring their 767’s in late 2014 Which did routes like SYD-PER or MEL-CHC. Also I think the 737MAX could do the job, but they maybe will go for the Neo after their A321NEO order. The A220 Is just to small, but could do wonders to the Qantas Link fleet, presumably replacing the 717’s.

Matthew in PDX

Personally, I think that the Airbus A320 is a better long run buy. The A320 is higher off the ground than the B737, so it will be easier to adapt the airframe to the higher bypass turbo fan engines that are in the development pipeline without doing a major redesign and its consequent break of type. Boeing has been handicapped by continuing to adapt B737 to the new engines, despite being so low to the ground. the MAX will probably be the last iteration of the 737 for this reason. I think that if Boeing had actually redesigned the B757… Read more »


The A320 series is 17cm wider in the interior which converts to 15-16cm at headrest height. You can easily get 18 inch wide seats in an Airbus, infact some such as Spirit offer 18.5 inches. B737NG are 17.2 though Boeing apparently has manged 17.6 on the MAX. For me its decisive, I appreciate not touching shoulders with the bloke next to me. The A320 series can handle containers of type LD3-46 (9 of them in an A321neo) only half of which would be needed for passengers luggage. That means the luggage handlers don’t need to wreck their knees shoving individual… Read more »

Norman clark

If they get the boeing737 max..”..I will not be near it…..ever!


Hi I fly model air craft and I can say we play around with elevator flap power mixers on our aircraft radio control systems all I can say is after experiments on the models I can say that mcas will never work 100 percent properly anytime when flying the model you change the airspeed of the model plane the settings for the mixer has to be adjusted I cant imagine the huge amount of code for mcas that will need to be written for such a system to work I would suggest to qantus to get a aircraft that has… Read more »

Neil Fitzpatrick

Order the A320 neo’s for short hall national flights. 1type of plane saves money on maintenance & training.

Or wait & get the 797’s but still buy 1 type of plane to replace the 737’s &717’s.