With Boeing now set to begin delivering the 787 Dreamliner to its first customers by September, Qantas has reaffirmed its intention to start flights on its own factory-fresh 787 before the end of next year.
A Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller the airline still hopes to see its first 787 Dreamliner arrive in late 2012, with the next-gen jetliner set to become the backbone of the fleet for everything from high-traffic domestic routes to new routes into Europe.
Qantas is splitting its massive 50-aircraft order into 15 of the base model 787-8 for Jetstar, and 35 of the stretched 787-9 with slightly higher seating capacity to fly under Qantas livery.
Here’s our rundown of what Dreamliners you’ll see when, and where they will take you.
Qantas’ low-cost arm will get its first eight Boeing 787-8s from late 2012 to mid-2014 to fly international routes to New Zealand and Asia, with the remaining seven Dreamliners from mid-2014.
In addition to boosting the number of weekly services to current Asian destinations, the 787s will allow Jetstar to launch new routes to Europe and North America.
"Europe has always been in our plan as well as North America" says Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan. "A lot of it will depend on fleet deliveries -- we are planning to use the 787 for some of those routes and because of the delay in the 787, we are focusing more on the Asian growth opportunities."
Athens, Milan, Munich and Rome are said to be on the shortlist for new European destinations, with the flights transiting via Singapore.
While no US cities have been mentioned San Francisco could be a possibility, with Jetstar taking over Qantas' previous direct route between Sydney and San Francisco which the airline abandoned last month in favour of a non-stop service to Dallas.
The Aussie flag-carrier isn't due to receive its own 787s painted in the Red Roo livery until the second tranche of deliveries starting mid-2014.
The Qantas 787s will all be the stretched 787-9 model. This has a longer range than the 787-8 and can carry up to 290 passengers, compared to the 787-8's 210-250 seats according to Boeing.
Qantas has yet to detail its 787-9 configuration but we expect a three-class cabin with business, premium economy and economy, likely using the same Marc Newson designs as created for the Airbus A380 and now being retrofitted to selected 747-400s.
The airline has its Dreamliners slated for flights into Asia and to the US, including turning the Sydney-Dallas/Forth Worth service into a non-stop flight in both directions (as even the current long-range 747-400ER has to make a stopover in Brisbane on the return leg).
Qantas says its Dreamliners will also be suitable for high traffic domestic routes, both short-haul and long-haul – which means you could eventually end up boarding a 787 for shuttling between Sydney and Melbourne or doing the cross-country run between the east coast and Perth.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.