Qantas will look to expand its international network, including adding direct flights to Beijing and India, with the debut of the airline’s Boeing 787s expected in 2016.
Speaking at today’s launch of the Qantas-Emirates alliance, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce reiterated the Dreamliner’s role as the backbone of Qantas’ future international fleet.
Qantas has options to purchase up to 50 of Boeing's stretched 787-9 beginning in 2016, with Joyce allowing this would let Qantas “open up a range of routes.”
“We’re talking about opportunities for us to re-enter Beijing, India and (add) more frequencies to Singapore and Hong Kong” Joyce said, “and we’re working through the numbers on those.”
However, while clearly confident of the Boeing 787’s potential, Joyce said he wasn’t yet ready to place firm orders for the Dreamliner.
“We’re not at the moment firming up the options” Joyce said.
“We have a bit of time before we have to make that decision and commit to the aircraft” Joyce explained, citing “volatility in the aviation industry” as one reason to proceed at a measured pace.
The decisions would also hinge on the loss-making Qantas International arm returning to profitability, with Joyce expecting the airline to break even in 2015.
Qantas’ low-cost offshoot Jetstar has 14 Boeing 787-8s on order, with the first due for delivery in the second half of this year.
Qantas previously had 35 of Boeing’s stretched 787-9 on the books, to be shared between Qantas and Jetstar, but cancelled the ‘firm order’ in August 2012 in exchange for options to purchase 50 of the stretched Dreamliner.
But a bigger reach for the Red Roo isn't wholly reliant on the Boeing 787-9, with Joyce also eyeing off other destinations in the shorter term.
"We're continuing to talk to Emirates about opportunities in continental Europe, and Berlin is one of them" Joyce said. "As this partnership is bedded down we'll be looking at opportunities for both airlines to expand their networks."
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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.