Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says he is considering introducing Boeing 787s for international flights from Canberra Airport from 2016.
In a Q&A session following a speech to the National Press Club, Joyce flagged Canberra as a potential long-haul destination, with Boeing's next-gen jetliner as a good fit for the airport and the route.
Although Canberra Airport is being upgraded to handle international flights from 2013, Qantas-badged Boeing 787s wouldn't grace the runways until sometime after 2016, when the airline can take delivery of its first Dreamliners under an 'option to purchase' plan.
Earlier this year Qantas cancelled its 'firm order' for 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliners an an effort to rein in costs, trading down to options and purchase rights on 50 of the Boeing jets "available for delivery from 2016."
(Deliveries of the first 15 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners for Jetstar will continue on schedule, with the first of the next-gen jets due to arrive in the second half of 2013.)
The proviso, of course, is for Qantas to return to profitability – a situation which Joyce believes the Qantas-Emirates alliance will accelerate.
"There is no doubt this new partnership (with Emirates) is a step‐change for us in terms of the viability of Qantas International, and therefore Qantas itself."
Should the Red Roo find itself back in Joyce's stated 2015 timeframe the airline would start pencilling in 787 routes, with Canberra on the shortlist, Joyce indicated, with the 787-9 being a "right fit" aircraft.
“I have no doubt we will be back here looking at what Qantas long haul can do in Canberra” he said.
At the same time, Joyce once again came out for a second Sydney airport being built at Badgery's Creek rather than using Canberra as a de facto hub.
Keep up to date with the latest news for Australian business travellers and frequent flyers: tune into @AusBT on Twitter.