Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says he is "very pissed off" at Boeing over the delays to the 787 Dreamliner, which would have seen the airline enjoying significantly lower costs in fuel and maintenance compared to the Red Roo's current aging fleet.
Speaking with The Australian, Joyce expressed a frank degree of disatisfaction on the much-delayed Dreamliner and its impact on the airline's bottom line – especially for Qantas International, which last week flagged a loss of $450 million.
Joyce also says the airline had been hit with its "highest ever" fuel bill, which is likely to nudge A$4.4 billion for the year to June 30 – an increase of $700m over the previous 12 months.
Joyce said he was "very pissed off" with Boeing for the 787's late arrival, as the next-gen jetliner had "an unbelievably lower cost base".
This includes drinking 20 per cent less fuel and a longer period between maintenance checks compared to today's aircraft.
Qantas was originally slated to receive its first Boeing 787 for use by Jetstar in August 2008, with Dreamliners carrying the Flying Kangaroo livery to debut in July 2009.
However, Boeing's production schedule steadily slipped from 2006 to 2011, when it handed over the first Dreamliner to launch partner ANA in October last year.
Qantas now won't see the Boeing 787-8 until it joins the Jetstar fleet in August 2013, while the Red Roo's own stretched 787-9 aircraft could arrive as late as 2016 – as much as seven years later than first planned.
(As an aside for context, jet fuel costs have steadily climbed almost 50% from the end of 2009 through to today, from US$1.38 per Gallon to US$2.69.)
Joyce believes the 787 "is going to make a huge difference to the economics of international routes as the 707 and other aircraft types have done."
He also predicted "a huge opportunity" for "flights to major (European) cities" via China – "particularly when the 787 comes" – if the government's Qantas Sale Act was loosened to allow greater foreign investment in the airline.
"The act limits foreign investment in the company and until that changes they (Europe's airports) will not open up," Joyce explained.
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