UPDATE | Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner will make a second visit to Australia starting Thursday May 24, 2012 – and this time we'll be going on a test flight! Click here for all the details.
PREVIOUS | Despite delays in the delivery schedule for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – delays which will now see Jetstar’s first 787 arrive in mid-2013 instead of late 2012, while the first Qantas-liveried 787 could be as late as 2016 – Qantas is expecting big things from Boeing’s mid-sized bird.
The Qantas Group has 50 of the next-gen jetliners on order – 15 of the base model 787-8 for Jetstar and 35 of the stretched 787-9 to be shared between Qantas and Jetstar – with options for 50 more.
That makes the world’s second largest airline order of the Dreamliner after the 55 spoken for by launch customer ANA (see our photo and video gallery of ANA's Dreamliner cabin, and check out these pics and video from the Boeing-ANA test flight.)
Lyell Strambi, Qantas Group Executive for Operations, says he now expects the first Qantas 787-9 to arrive “in the 2015 timeframe, so that’s 2015-16”.
“My desire is to get them into Qantas early, the sooner the better, but we’re in Boeing’s hands” Strambi told Australian Business Traveller.
The Dreamliner as a drawcard
Strambi expects the sleek 787 to enjoy the same high appeal to travellers as the Airbus A380 superjumbo, with many passengers specifically looking to book flights on the Dreamliner.
“The A380 has been spectacular in its customer appeal, and if the 787 lives up to its promise it should do exactly the same. It could be one of these planes that stands out in customers’ minds, and people always want to fly the latest plane anyway, so (the 787) could become the plane of choice.”
And with at least 50 Dreamliners on its books and a delivery period stretching to nearly 2020, Qantas has developed a strategic plan which will see the 787s move between the Jetstar and Qantas fleets, on both international and domestic routes.
“We have the flexibility to play the 787 into either space” Strambi explains.
First Aussie Dreamliners due 'mid 2013'
Jetstar will be the first Australian airline to fly the 787, from the middle of 2013, and plans to run the Dreamliner between Auckland and Singapore and other long-haul routes from Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast to destinations in Asia as well as Honolulu.
The aircraft will have room for around 300 passengers across business and economy class, and as each 787 arrives Jetstar will hand its Airbus A330s over to Qantas for domestic use (in turn, Qantas will retire its aging and less fuel-efficient Boeing 767s).
“Internationally Jetstar needs the 787 in the short term and Qantas domestic needs it in the long term” Strambi says, “so in the longer term we have the option to swing the 787-8 back into the domestic space when we retire the A330 fleet.”
A few years later – "hopefully 2015", says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce – Qantas will receive its first Boeing 787s in the form of the longer 787-9 version.
These will be fitted with 275 seats across business class, premium economy and economy, while the 787-9s headed to Jetstar will pack 350 passengers into two classes.
Dreamliners to Dallas?
Qantas will use its 787s to replace the older Boeing 747s, with Alan Joyce already earmarking the 747-400 service from Sydney and Dallas – a 15+ hour, 13,800km trek – as one of the launch routes for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
“We’ve already seen how good Dallas is with the 747” observed Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. “Imagine how good it will be with the 787 on that network.”
In addition to replacing the aging Boeing 747s, Joyce said the 787 “gives us the extra range to open up new direct routes that we can’t service today”, on top of “more frequencies and more destinations in Asia.”
Further down the track, Qantas will inherit some of Jetstar's 787-8s for domestic service, ranging from the 'golden triangle' of Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne to the cross-country leg from the east coast to Perth.
“In the short term domestic is secondary, but in the long term it’s a primary role (for the 787)" Strambi told Australian Business Traveller.
Also in AusBT's extensive coverage of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner...
- PHOTO TOUR: Inside Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliner Sydney event
- Qantas teases on super-stretched Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner
- Photos and flight report: ANA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Fan pays $32,700 for seat on first ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight
- Why business travellers will love the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Boeing’s 787 nixes first class for business, premium economy
- Exclusive photo tour: inside ANA's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Photos: inside the Boeing 787's funky crew rest 'loft'
- Light fantastic: the Boeing 787’s digital window tinting
- Flying in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner: first real-life video
- Photos & video: Inside the first ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Boeing chooses Android for 787 Dreamliner's entertainment system
- United aims for first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights by mid-2012