Qantas to convert remaining A380 orders to A350-900ULR?

By DeepAvThroat | Aug 18, 2017, 10:41 AM
This isn't as locked-in as my other insider tips but here is what's being discussed in the top circles of Qantas HQ. Qantas has an order for 20 A380s but took only 12 of them. The remaining 8 are still on the books although Qantas has said many times it won't take them.
So right now Qantas is in discussions with Airbus on converting those 8 A380 orders into orders for the A350-900ULR, which is the same ultra-long range A350 which SQ will use for non-stops to LAX and JFK. It's looking good because the only alternative is the Boeing 777-8X which is not going to fly until early 2020s but the A350ULRs can be delivered from 2019, and they're just a standard and proven A350 with extra rage built in.
This would let Qantas start direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and major European cities, not sure about London which would of course be the prize. The config would probably be similar to the Boeing 787-9 with no first class, just business, premium economy and economy.
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Yvan J Drake, Richard Robertson, mo

By MRYJDrake | Aug 18, 2017, 10:59 AM
I always get excited when I see a post from yourself, DAT, 

Always makes for an interesting read. Looking forward to seeing this pan out.
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By victort | Aug 18, 2017, 11:29 AM
Excited to see if this comes to fruition!
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By mviy | Aug 18, 2017, 11:35 AM
Direct flights to JFK from MEL and SYD would make a lot of sense. QF could retire the 747 aircraft used to fly BNE-LAX-JFK and replace the BNE-LAX part with a 787 service (perhaps linking up with flights from BNE to PER and onto Europe). With passengers flying direct from MEL and SYD to JFK  QF wouldn't need as much capacity flying to LAX anymore.
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By TheBigM | Aug 18, 2017, 11:40 AM
Always have to wonder about the comfort of economy on those ultra long flights though.
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By mviy | Aug 18, 2017, 11:43 AM
No first class would be disappointing especially if it was somehow able to be used for direct flights to LHR, but with no F on the 787 services to LHR I guess that's not too surprising. It'd be a bit surprising if the 787 services to LHR via PER only lasted a year.
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By Covo95 | Aug 18, 2017, 12:30 PM
the 777-8 cannot fly as far as the A350ULR, another reason for qantas to buy the latter 
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By mviy | Aug 18, 2017, 12:46 PM
If QF can fly direct to LHR at a reasonable price I think they'd be crazy to keep the indirect services to LHR via PER going. Direct services would probably require fairly high loads, so the 787 flights via PER could get rerouted to a different European city.

The question obviously is whether the A350-900ULR has the range. If it doesn't then it could be some years yet before QF gets planes with the range to fly direct.
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By grov | Aug 18, 2017, 02:09 PM
I believe that's a key question - can the ULR version fly direct SYD-LHR?
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By grov | Aug 18, 2017, 02:14 PM
Hmm - according to the April SMH article, with a revised range of 9700 nm, it looks like the ULR could make SYD-LHR in a single hop. Interesting.
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By Packetman21 | Aug 18, 2017, 03:48 PM
Well, back in Economy, they would hopefully fit 3-3-3 on the 777. That is one positive of the A350, they have made it hard to add another seat in each row for full sericice carriers.
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By AJW | Aug 18, 2017, 03:49 PM
Been saying for a long time now the A350 is the better plane for Qantas ultra long haul compared to the 789. 

Will be pleased if this rumour is indeed true. 
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By StudiodeKadent | Aug 18, 2017, 05:12 PM
No First Class?

I find that hard to believe honestly. The markets to LHR and JFK (the two ports which A350-ULRs would want to serve) have obvious First demand. Plus, given that lower capacity = lighter load = longer range, it makes sense to go for a four-class LOPA on the jet. First Class passengers will take direct over connecting flights any day. 

I'm skeptical about whether or not they'll get the ULRs, but I guess it depends on whether or not the 777-8 can be competitive in range terms. If the 777-8 can be competitive range-wise, QF would probably take the -8s instead (with -9s being the longterm replacement for 747s/A380s).
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By Notso Swift | Aug 18, 2017, 05:26 PM
Didn't the Irishman make a tip about MEL/SYD to JFK and Euro destinations being CDG/FCO/TXL (not sure how TXL will go now!) with the PER-LHR MEL-DFW announcement,
That would suggest this a definite possibility and also that East Coast to LHR is just a little too far
The A350 kills the 787 in my experience, so I would prefer it, but not stopping is even better!
Last edited by Notso Swift at Aug 18, 2017, 05.27 PM.
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By Boof | Aug 18, 2017, 06:56 PM
This rumour has been linked on another website now, so I'll post on here what I wrote there:

Rumour?? No that isn't right at all. It's no secret that QF have some A380 delivery slots left to take and don't want them, and Alan Joyce has made no secret that they are looking at both the A350 and next gen 777's for non-stop routes ex SYD and MEL to NYC, ORD and potentially LHR.  Of course they will be looking at options to use the A380 delivery slots to their advantage, doesn't mean they will buy them. They may do, but I'm sure that on the whiteboard the 777's are right there next to them. 

QF buy 10 tonne of cheese a month, I heard they are looking to buy a dairy farm...

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By PDR | Aug 18, 2017, 07:00 PM
What's the freight capacity on the 777-8X versus the A350ULR? My understanding was that the ULR loses a lot of its freight capacity, to pick up the increased fuel load in a (largely) unmodified airframe.

Might impact the economics a bit, if the -8X is designed to carry freight, whereas the ULR has limited capacity.
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