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Qantas culls fleet: Boeing 767s, 747 jumbos to go, Airbus 380s & Boeing 787s deferred

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, Boeing 747, Boeing 737

Qantas will take the axe to its domestic and international fleet, weeding out older aircraft and delaying orders for new aircraft as part of an aggressive $2 billion cost-saving campaign.

The older planes are less fuel-efficient than more modern jets and also carry a higher maintenance bill, and their early retirement will allow Qantas to speed up its ‘fleet simplification’ drive to reduce number of different aircraft types it flies.

Old Boeings out

Qantas has confirmed the retirement of its ageing Boeing 767 fleet, with all 15 of the twin-aisle domestic jets put out to pasture by third quarter of 2015.

The Boeing 767s will be replaced by Airbus A330s from Jetstar as the budget airline switches its own international fleet over to the newer Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Also headed for the farm are six non-reconfigured Boeing 747 jumbo jets, which will be cut by mid-2016.

The Flying Kangaroo’s former flagship has become a costly fuel-guzzler compared to the newer Airbus A380 super jumbo.

Qantas will retain the nine jumbos which have been upgraded to new lie-flat business class Skybed seats, along with refreshed premium economy and economy seats and a new inflight entertainment system.

Airbus 380s deferred

Qantas will halt orders for eight Airbus A380s on top of the 12 already in service, "with an ongoing review of delivery dates to meet potential future requirements."

In a Fleet, Efficiency & Engineering presentation to media and analysts in October 2013 Qantas pegged all eight of those remaining superjumbos for delivery in the 2017-2025 period.

With the A380's list price currently sitting at US$414 million (A$461), each undelivered superjumbo places a sizeable marker on Qantas'  forward balance sheet.

Dreamliners delayed

Qantas will also push back on its orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to help balance the books, with the final three of Jetstar's 14 Boeing 787s deferred.

However, the low-cost airline remains on track to have 11 Dreamliners by the middle of 2016 as it continues to hand its Airbus A330s back to Qantas.

Read: Qantas sets its sights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

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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.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 27/2/14 by tmsmile

Worst. Fleet. Deciscions. Ever.

1 on 27/2/14 by tmsmile

*That is, the defferals

2 on 27/2/14 by hutch

Yes, I can understand a partial deferal... but they need to start getting some of these planes... even if only a couple of year.

3 on 27/2/14 by TheRealBabushka


1 on 27/2/14 by watson374

Because to improve their outlook, they need to become more competitive. To become more competitive, they need to renew their fleet.

2 on 27/2/14 by Merc25

why should the budget carrier Jetstar get the best planes!!!

1 on 27/2/14 by Hugo

I'd rather travel eight-abreast in an A330 than nine-abreast in a barely-wider 787.

2 on 27/2/14 by woganfan

Because Joyce is pursuing the low cost model JQ as if it's the messiah. 

3 on 3/3/14 by cdinoz

Becuase the missions that the 787 are being brought in for are perfectly suited to the 788. ie Phuket, Narita and Honolulu - longer narrower flights. That's even the way they were ordered under Dixon. 

Then, the old 767's on Domestic will be replaced with the A330, which on the shorter Domestic Routes the fuel economy of the 788 vs the A332 will be negligible (the 787 was not really designed for short CityFlyer hops). 

JQ will get more fuel efficient aircraft for the long haul, where the cost saving over the A332 is noticeable, and QF Domestic aquires more fuel efficient A332's for the short haul.

I'd say that was a win win?

3 on 27/2/14 by gumshoe

New planes to JQ old ones back to QF I just don't get it.

By the time these planes change over QF would have lost even more M$.

1 on 27/2/14 by Dubya

The rationale is that JQ as a unit can perform better and compete more effectively on cost, given that it is a low cost carrier, iif it has more cost effective aircraft. QF as a unit though can theoretically absorb higher operating costs with higher margins. From a group point of view though, it doesn't make much difference. I think they would have been better off giving them to QF for Asian routes with a strict 8 across economy layout. 

4 on 27/2/14 by les

787s to QF, safe $ rebranding the JQ A330s!

5 on 27/2/14 by Rob

Does the removal of the 767s indicate the 332s currently in the JQ fleet will move to the golden triangle domestic routes?

Despite their age I still prefer to take a 767 between Sydney and Melbourne than a 737.

1 on 27/2/14 by watson374

I would expect more 738s on the Triangle, with select services using the older 332s that cannot support heavy seating. These will obviously retain recliner J.

I would like to see the heavier 332s used for either transcon or a renewed push into Asia. But meh.

1 on 27/2/14 by AJW

The heavier seating thing is and always has been a flacay. Qantas has made it clear that ALL their A330's will get the same business class seat during the refurb program, though some differences in economy with domestic seats refurbished and international new seats.

1 on 28/2/14 by watson374

Weird. We'll see.

To be honest, I think it's all a bit over the top. Only the international ones really need to be redone with fully-flat J (and preferably reverse-herringbone rather than staggered); the transcon/trans-Tasman only really need slopers; the Triangle needs capacity and therefore can do with recliners.

Which means carving up the fleet, but the A330 fleet has been thoroughly mucked up anyway.

2 on 7/7/14 by abudhabi1

I could be wrong here but with the 767's going and with MORE 738'S for the East Coast Runs We have gone back in time to before the then TAA Had the A300's from 1981 put this into perspective It was Two 727's that make up One AIRBUS But today to make up the loss capacity on some services It will be a Pair of 737's to make up for the loss of Wide Body for the most part for the Non A330 services.

1 on 7/7/14 by cdinoz

Going back in time, or moving with the times? How cheap was arvo fuel when the A300 was in our skies?

Are wide bodies the best aircraft for a 1 hour+ flight between SYD-BNE or SYD-MEL and v.v..? 

I'd say the fuel efficient 738's with frequency are probably a better bet than an A330 or a 787 between those city pairs. 

How many other airlines offer the same short hops back and forth that Qantas have offered on the short city pairs?If wide bodies were that good on the East Coast runs, why havent Virgin or Tiger gone down that route?

I can see the 738's (or A320's with JQ) being the mainstay of these short flights until the next crop of fuel efficient narrow bodies comes along. The sometime peak use of a QF A330 will be rather minimal in the scheme of things (and they may more be timetabled where Qantas needs to ferry a plane for operational purposes).

6 on 27/2/14 by AusFlyer

I will miss seeing the 747 in Qantas colours. Such a beautiful looking plane.

7 on 27/2/14 by VA Beats QF

AUSFLYER,I absolutely agree with you it is such a beautiful plane in QANTAS colours but they are also very expensive to run these days compared to other aircraft though I don't understand why they did not by some 777 aircraft but what ever

1 on 27/2/14 by AJW

 Simple. The earlier models of the 777 circa the late 90's were not suitable to the Qantas fleet, either being too big for their asian operations (this is when the 763 was the norm on Asian flights) or not enough legs on longer flights.


 The versions of the 777 that would have suited Qantas came at the time where it was more sensible for Qantas to go for the 787. Of course we do all know that the 5 year delay to the 787 program was not the fault of Qantas, so with hindsite it would have been better to go 777-200LR or 300ER at that time, but alas even Dixon who was in charge when that decision was made didn't have a crystal ball.

1 on 27/2/14 by watson374

The appropriate reaction would have been to lease A330s to cover the blank period, and possibly even buy them.

It's what SQ did around 2009 and it paid off. It would have handed them a relatively cheaper, more efficient aircraft to cover the gap quite nicely. So nicely in fact that I might even suggest they would now in 2014 cancel the 787s and buy their A330s outright.

Hindsight is 20/20, but the 777-200ER wasn't the right plane for QFi.

8 on 27/2/14 by sara gul

I know the time had to come - but I am just gutted about this. I adore the B767. I love the B747 even more.  I simply cannot understand why QF didn't order the 777 and the 747-8. The latter has outstanding fuel efficiency and is so beautiful compared to the clunky awful A380s. And the A330 feels like a matchbox car.

1 on 27/2/14 by Longreach

The ast time I flew on a Qantas 747 was last year, across the Pacific in one flight; first Qantas 747 was in '73, when it took three flights to cross the same ocean: to Fiji, to Honolulu then to San Francisco. They don't even fly to SFO now.

The 767 is also an excellent aeroplane, as were the 707 and the best of them all, the 727, known in aviation circles at the time as the Thumper.

9 on 27/2/14 by neiljeram

Why oh why did Qantas not take on the B777? The problems with QF today have thier roots in the QF management of years ago. Wrong fleet choices ie no B777 and now Jetstar getting the new B787. Qantas mainline is becoming a three route carrier: LAX, HK and LHR. Perhaps Jo'burg. Anything else: go on EK

1 on 27/2/14 by AJW

The 777's available at the time were not suitable, and when they did become suitable Boeing was able to offer the 787. Neither expected it to be delayed by so much.



2 on 3/3/14 by cdinoz

Because some of their souther routes were not twin jet comatible (ETOPS restrictions) - hence they still needed 4-holers for the long over the water routes.

I would say with current missions into Asia, they would be better off aquiring some more A330's to cover the hole. 

A388 to the US - 744ER to South America / JoBurg - A332/3 to Asia

The buy some A350-1000 to eventually replace the 744ER which will be ETOPs OK by then ;-)

10 on 27/2/14 by johnnypc67

I like flying on the 767 and 747 they are comfortable but do really need to go soon. Why not shut down JQ international other than the short haul budget destinations. Move the 787-8 and remaining a330 (and refurb the qf ones sooner rather than later, with W class) to QF for domestic and Asian destinations direct like Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, KL, Seoul, Bangkok. Keep the A380 on ultra long routes to London and accross the pacific. While they are at it how about some decent schedules, aircraft and destinations from Melbourne

1 on 27/2/14 by JBH

Ha, count yourself lucky, pax in PER wil have zero QF schedule, aircraft or a destination come mid May. 

11 on 27/2/14 by johnnypc67

A 787 from Perth to Dubai could then be utilised to Germany or France. Or cut the Dubai stop over all together. I would rather stop over via Asia through anyone of the liberal exciting cities. Recently went to Paris and flew MH because QF flies via Dubai.

1 on 25/6/15 by T

I think a 787-9 from Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to Dubai, then on to destinations in Europe, and the a380 from Melbourne to Dubai then Paris, and SYD-DXB-LHR, and you can change flights at Dubai for different Qantas aircraft, I think that would be great

12 on 28/2/14 by ezihose

If Alan had stopped screwing the qantas customers by send the horid 767,s to DumStar and left the A330,s at qantas as they were supposed to be then 50% of the qantas business customers would have stayed! But for international travel we switched to Singapore airlines because it was cheaper with better planes and virgin because it was cheaper with better planes

take a look at the nose dive in business class travel when smart boy alan took the 747,s off the perth sydney run and replaced them with horrid 737 & 767's

1 on 3/3/14 by CL9

The gramatical errors, incorrect statements and general stupidity of your comment is distrubing.

1 on 3/3/14 by CL9

*grammatical *disturbing lol


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