Qantas flags Boeing 777X as potential A380 replacement

Qantas flags Boeing 777X as potential A380 replacement

Qantas has flagged the Boeing 777X as a possible replacement for its Airbus A380s when it's eventually time for the superjumbos to be put out to pasture.

While the Flying Kangaroo's short-term focus for renewing its fleet remains on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which would replace older Boeing 747 jumbo jets as well as carve out new routes, the airline is also looking at life beyond the A380.

Read: Qantas pilots back the Boeing 787

Qantas is currently flying 12 superjumbos on flagship routes to London, Los Angeles and Dallas, although it's unlikely to take up the remaining eight aircraft from its original order of 20.

Instead, those dozen double-deckers will be flown until it's time to shop around for a replacement – and the tweaked A380neo version may not be on the cards.

“I think a fleet of 12 works well for us and we will hold onto those planes through their economic life,” Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans said.

“But when you then look at what point those sorts of aircraft will be coming up for replacement, new technology aeroplanes will be in place by then — 787-9s, A350s, the 777-8X and 9X,” Evans told The Australian overnight at the annual International Air Transport Association meeting in Miami, Florida.

That 'replacement' timeframe is likely to stretch well into the next decade, however – the first Qantas A380 having arrived in 2008, and by comparison the airline has notched up over 15 years flying some Boeing 747s.

Read more: Qantas still on track to buy new planes, says Joyce

The Boeing 777X is the latest addition to Boeing's best-selling 777 family, including the 777-300ER – which many in the industry believe Qantas should have originally ordered in place of the Airbus A380.

Boeing claims the 777X will be "the largest and most efficient twin-engine commercial jet in the world, with the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial airplane."

First to fly is likely to be the Boeing 777-9X, although the 'X' will be dropped as the plane makes its journey from blueprint to blue skies, to become the 777-9.

The 777-9X is spec'd for 400 passengers in a three-class cabin layout with a peak range nudging past 15,185km (8,200 nautical miles).

By comparison, Qantas' Airbus A380 carries 484 passengers in four classes (first, business, premium economy and economy) and a range of 15,700 km (8,500 nautical miles).

Following the 777-9X will be the 777-8X, which will trim the seat count to 350 passengers but extend the jet's maximum range past 17,220km (9,300 nautical miles).

Read: First Boeing 777X tipped for 2018

Qantas partner and Gulf powerhouse Emirates reportedly plans to upgrade its entire Boeing 777 fleet to the Boeing 777X jet from 2020.

Emirates CEO Tim Clark: "The 8X is the real sweetheart"

Emirates has signed on the dotted line for 35 of the long-range Boeing 777-8X jets and a further 115 of the bigger but shorter-range 777-9X.

"The 8X is the real sweetheart, as it will fly to the other side of the planet with a good payload," Emirates CEO Tim Clark says.

Read: Emirates to replace entire Boeing 777 fleet with 777X jets

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

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.
 

71 comments

  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 12:44 pm

    A combination of B787 and B777X fleet for international would be fantastic! When could they order he B777X I mean the earliest A380 will be hitting 15 years old in 2022. How long would Qantas want to keep them for, what would be the most appropriate retirement age for the A380s?

    35 B787-9/10

    20-25 B7779X/8X

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 12:58 pm

    I think the A350 would be a better aircraft than the B787 family, because you know Qantas would go for the sardine can 3-3-3 config in economy on the B787.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 01:03 pm

    However it really doesnt look like Qantas is interested in the A350, unless they converted the a380 order to the a350s but i dont think it would be very ergonomical to have the A350 and 787 together afterall they wouldmost likely be different engine makes as Jetstar has the the GEnx engines and the a350 only option is the rr 1000. 

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 01:07 pm

    Qantas pilots i guess would also find the commonality excellent between the 787 and 777X. 

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 01:22 pm

    Agree on both fronts... I'm just saying I would prefer the A350 and no B787. Yes, I know they have the B787 on order.. BUT that 3-3-3 layout in economy is a killer, and it seems all airlines are going for it on the B787.

    The A350 is a better aircraft from a passenger point of view.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 01:28 pm

    Yeah I totally agree. 

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 03:40 pm

    might as well go with Jetshit if you're gonna get shitty 3-3-3 and 31inch pitch

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 12:50 pm

    Is it best for Qantas to order the B777X (if they choose it) asap like next year given the potetially high demand for the plane to allow them to be delivered in the early to mid 2020s?

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 12:55 pm

    "Emirates reportedly plans to upgrade its entire Boeing 777 fleet to the Boeing 777X jet from 2020"

    Now let's hope they also upgrade their hideous hard product they have on their current B777's!! I mean who today still has a 2-3-2 configuration in Business Class on long haul aircraft? 

    Both Qantas and Virgin Australia's new A330 biz class products really put Emirates to shame.

    If it's not on the A380, I won't fly with Emirates.. All their other aircraft are disgusting and definitely NOT up to standard for a so called World Class Airline!!

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  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    8 Jun, 2015 01:10 pm

    This is a click bait article. Gareth Evans outlined possibilities for A380 replacements including the Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777X and Airbus A350, he didn't specifically denote the Boeing 777X as the future replacement. We will have to wait and see what develops in the near future but until it's confirmed then it's just speculation.

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 01:25 pm

    Interesting as I didn't think Qantas was interested in the A350 - I think it's a better aircraft against the B787.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 01:31 pm

    Yeah I don't think the 787 will replace the A380, I'm hoping for the B777X over the A350, it's slightly wider for a 10 abreast 18inch seats for economy. 

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 02:15 pm

    If Qantas did go for the A350, it would be nine abreast in economy which is seats at 18in.

    If the A350-1100 get built, it will give the B777-9 a kicking as its a completely new aircraft. Not a rehashing (as good as that rehashing might be)

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 01:33 pm

    Is thee any chance for Qantas to get the A350 over the B777X especially if they order the B787-9s later this for the 747 and A333 replacement. 

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  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    8 Jun, 2015 02:01 pm

    I don't know why people thumb down posts about QF considering A350s, they are a very good model of aircraft and state of the art. TBH I'd much rather fly in  A350 economy  over B787 9 abreast economy, seeing as that's the trend for airlines these days. Economically speaking A350 makes more sense to QF as it shares cockpit commonality to the A380. If Airbus develops an A350-1100 version to compete directly with the B777X that will be interesting!

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 02:11 pm

    That would be very interesting as I think the A350 is a much better aircraft than the B787 and if Airbus does go for the A350-1100, it would kill the B777X

    That 3-3-3, nine abreast in the B787 is a killer

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:16 pm

    That is true the A350-1100 would be much more fuel efficient replacement over the B777X to replace the A380s however if there is an A350-1100 it would need I guess to be delivered in between early to mid 2220s as that's when the A380s would be entering retirement age

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:13 pm

    I do realise the A350 from a customer perspective is better than a B787-9 9 abreast is much better, however given the drastically reduced prices of the 787 it will be hard to not order them. Also the aircraft commonality between the A380 and A350 I dont believe is something Qantas is cares about if they got the A350 instead of the 787 because by the time any A350s could be delivered  the A380s will most likely be approaching its retirement age 15 years (2022) for the first A380 delivered. Does that make sense?

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 02:18 pm

    Qantas has the B787 on order and so I doubt they will go for the A350 no matter what I think ;-)

    That means a B787 / B777X family makes the most sense long term.

    You right that it's too late now for Qantas to go for the A350

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:32 pm

    Yeah, a 787/B777X international fleet would be more ergonomic given they would have similar engines (GE), cockpit and other maintenance. If Airbus did make an A350-1100 I believe it would have to be a lot better fuel economy etc over the B777X to not have the ergonomic and commonality advantages from an all Boeing 787/777X fleet for Qantas to think if having a 787/A350-1000/1100 fleet. I'm not saying the A350 is insupirior to the B777X it just might not make the most long term fleet considering Qantas will get the 787 for 747 and A333 replacement and incremental growth. 

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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    8 Jun, 2015 02:43 pm

    The A350-1000/1100 may have better price when the cancellation fees for the 8xA380s are taken into acocunt.  QF usually waits 20 years to get rid of planes so think post 2025 with deliverie to 2030.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:49 pm

    Yeah I guess your possibly  right concerning the cheaper price with the cancellation fees, but I guess Qantas would like a bigger A350-1100 aircraft if they were to go with the A350 over B777X

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  • Mal

    Mal

    8 Jun, 2015 02:37 pm

    Jedinak K, I guess you didn't bother to read the headline of "Qantas flags Boeing 777X as potential A380 replacement". It very clearly says "potential", and later says it's flagged "as a replacement", nobody has said it's THE replacement, not Gareth Evans and certainly not AusBT.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:40 pm

    I sure did read it, I'm just considering the options Qantas might take given they will probably order B787 later this year and what would most likely be the long term fleet plan in my opinion. 

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    8 Jun, 2015 02:44 pm

    I admit I certainly didn't expect this to happen, but it sort of makes sense given Qantas is never going to be an ultra-massive airline by international standards. But with the Emirates alliance, are Qantas really having trouble filling their planes?


    The 777-8X will basically allow Qantas to do direct SYD-LHR and direct SYD-JFK services, whilst the 9X will basically have the same capacity (and I think longer range?) as the 747s with lower operating costs.


    The only downside I can see is that this will result in quite a bit of fleet inconsistency since the 777X can do 18" Economy at 10-abreast, but the Dreamliner will either be narrower (17.2" at 9-across) or wider (18.5" to 19" at 8-across).


    It seems the A380 was certainly too big for Qantas, which is quite sad. If they aren't going to put money into their A380s any more (i.e. upgrade their Business Class product to the Business Suite) then that will damage their Trans-Pacific competitiveness (except on Dreamliner-flown Trans-Pacific crossings), as well as their competitiveness to Europe (since Virgin + Etihad to Europe would have a consistently better product, at least in the premium cabins).

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 02:57 pm

    I still believe Qantas will upgrade the A380s will new business and first and refurbish PE and E. If they keep them to 2025 another 10 years approx I can't see them not touching them for another decade. Also could the B777X or A350 to develop seat consistency may persuade Qantas to do an 8 across 787 for an 18inch economy seat across the international fleet?

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 03:37 pm

    Practically no airline is going for 8 abreast on the B787 - even those few like ANA that did select 8 across seating, have changed and are now going for the 9 abreast.

    Qantas will definitely go 9 abreast in the B787

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 04:03 pm

    The thing is though how is Qantas going to discerne itself from Jetstars 787 economy regarding the pitch and width when Qantas is a premium airline. Would an 8 abreast be worth it if more people chose to fly on Qantas' 787s because of a wider 787 seat by setting itself apart not just from Jetstar but the other 787 premium airlines with 9 abreast?

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    8 Jun, 2015 04:09 pm

    It's not going to happen... They will definitely going to go 9 abreast and I will put money on it.

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    8 Jun, 2015 04:25 pm

    I think Qantas could easily do an 8-across 787 with a 31" pitch and slimline seats at an 18" (or greater) width in economy. They'd easily be able to get to 250+ people in a 3-class (Business-PE-Econ) fashion if they did such. But whether or not they WILL do so is a totally different issue.

    For the record I'm basing these estimates on 28 Business seats, 21 to 28 PE and the rest Economy. JAL's 787-9 LOPA and Thompson's Vantage XL LOPA are freely available on the internet and back my estimates.

    I agree that 8-across has the advantage of positioning Qantas above Jetstar significantly. It would also help them challenge other airlines like Singapore and the Middle East 3 for Pax Ex. It could also save them money through reducing plane weight and labor costs.

    But yeah, Qantas probably will go along with the herd unfortunately.

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  • Broderick Boyd

    brobro

    8 Jun, 2015 02:51 pm

    I would not be suprised if Air New Zealand look at the 777X as a possible replacement for their 772's which will be 16 years old by 2022.

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  • Steele

    Steele

    8 Jun, 2015 04:09 pm

    With the way Qantas International is currently, a conversion of the remaining A380 options (if possible) to the A350 would make sense. With A330's flying domestic and medium-haul international, accompanied with A350's would provide the international arm with technological similarities, helping lower expenses. Then again, with the 787 just recently given the green light by the Pilots, who knows what QF will land at London or Los Angeles with...

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 04:14 pm

    If try were to cancel the A380s and not convert to A350s would they have to pay any cancellation charges? When could they get A350 deliveries if they did convert the A380 orders to 350s?

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 04:23 pm

    It's also a case of would Qantas want a small fleet of A350s if Qantas was a long term fleet plan to simplify the fleet. Like I've said before I think that Qantas would be looking for a 400 seater A350-1100 to replace the A380 and that may available for delivery after the A380s retirement age 15-20 years (2022-2025) and the B777X will be available by that point ( unless there's no huge delays)

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 04:30 pm

    How about converting orders to more A330s?  The regional version only comes in -300 model, so maybe too much plane for transcon domestic.  What's going to happen to the current QF airbus pilots? convert to boeing? or is it a case of once Airbus, always airbus?.  I don't want to be stuck with 738s for all domestic flying.  An order of 20 A332NEOs to replace its current fleet of A332s, which could also be used on shorter international routes (e.g. once daily SYD-AKL), 787-9s for international Asia flights.  20x 777-9 to cover most 747 and A380 routes and 10x 777-8x to cover their longest routes and maybe start up SYD-YVR, MEL-DFW.

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    8 Jun, 2015 04:38 pm

    Yeah that's a great idea converting the A380s to A332neos. 787s are to much range for domestic for a A332 replacement. A332neo is a great price as well. 

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  • GgFlyer

    GgFlyer

    8 Jun, 2015 05:35 pm

    more good news! Qantas should probably hold on to a few a380s just incase some routes don't get etops certified to be flown by the 777x

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  • Craig Dennington

    cdinoz

    8 Jun, 2015 06:11 pm

    Isn't that a reason to buy an Airbus then? Given they seem to have a proclivity in producing airliners that can pretty much do any Etops restricted routes before Boeing?

    Isn't one of the selling points of the A350 ??? 

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  • Driveucrazy

    Driveucrazy

    8 Jun, 2015 06:42 pm

    Dog eat dog!

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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    8 Jun, 2015 07:22 pm

    Hopefully by the time the remaining 747s and A380s get retired, CASA will be allowing twin jet ops over the southern oceans.

     

    They might keep defuring the remaining 8 A380s to get 380neos and replace the oldest 8 380s in the mid-late 2020s.

    I don't see them getting A350s, either new order or converted 380 order, as they want to reduce the types in the fleet.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 07:26 pm

    I thought it was ICAO that was preventing them?

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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    8 Jun, 2015 07:52 pm

    no. ICAO came up with the ETOPS standards. It is up to each regulator (CASA in the case of VA and QF to approve and/or certifiy airlines and aircraft for ETOPS.

    CASA currently does not allow higher then 180. This is part of the reason the VA MEL-JNB route failed. In order to do southern South America/Southern Africa flights to/from Australia economically, they need at least 240, 330 would be better.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 07:55 pm

    isnt the A350 certified for 370 by EASA?

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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    8 Jun, 2015 08:06 pm

    EASA and FAA can certified aircraft however they like. CASA doesn't have to follow them and QF has to follow CASAs rules.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 08:22 pm

    I know that but I was pointing out that CASA is lagging by more than half the max ETOPS compared to the major players.

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  • Driveucrazy

    Driveucrazy

    8 Jun, 2015 07:49 pm

    QF partner has A380 market sown up. 

    Price war is over QF need to white flag it which was done.

    JQ needs to get the kangaroo route via Asia before EK put more routes to AU via Asia like E418-9 into Syd via BKK and other to Mel via KL.

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  • whipper

    whipper

    8 Jun, 2015 08:11 pm

    I think it is a fuphy to suggest the A380 has already been and gone... There are plenty of slot constrained airports that won't allow expansion with smaller aircraft - Heathrow, JFK and even Sydney to name but a few... So this whole 'going smaller' in the face of year-on-year growth in passenger numbers and more demand for landing slots belies the reality. 

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Jun, 2015 09:57 pm

    The age of their business class seat doesn't help QF to fill them

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  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    9 Jun, 2015 06:11 am

    Agreed... And Qantas new A330 Biz Class "suite" makes the Mark II seats on the A380 seem even MORE dated

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  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    8 Jun, 2015 11:56 pm

    So far into the future and with the likely chance of a new board by then, I am sure things will change in the next 5-10 years.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    9 Jun, 2015 08:07 am

    You say that but then look how long people like Michael O'Leary have been around.  He's been the CEO of Ryanair for 21 years and has worked for them (through Tony Ryan, hence the name Ryanair) since the airline was founded in the 80s.  Of course the board will change but people like Alan Joyce may still be around to make a mess of everything.

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  • Serg

    Serg

    9 Jun, 2015 10:02 am

    Does not matter what other thinking, IMHO A380 is damn ugliest aircraft ever and 777 is way better. IMHO 777 second best looking aircraft after 747. Yep, YMMV

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    9 Jun, 2015 10:14 am

    A340-500 is orgasmic

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  • Serg

    Serg

    9 Jun, 2015 02:53 pm

    A340 is not bad, it is true, but 747 still the best

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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    9 Jun, 2015 04:54 pm

    Air NZ's all black 787-9 looks sick as f*ck I tell you - A380 in EY livery imo is second to 787

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  • Mal

    Mal

    9 Jun, 2015 11:15 am

    I know this decision is still a LONG way away but it shows that Qantas is thinking ahead, just as it should be and as any business should be.

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  • jetsetter86

    jetsetter86

    9 Jun, 2015 01:58 pm

    Where is Airbus at with the A380 program? I recall a 1,000 aircraft requirement to break even. Last I read the program was at risk of being cancelled. I've heard Qantas would quite like this to happen as they have a few orders they would prefer to switch to other aircraft.

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  • Fonga

    Fonga

    9 Jun, 2015 02:07 pm

    Let's just get the 787-9s introduced to service and bedded down in the network before we start chasing hares. The A380s have decades to run and they serve the legs they are on extremely well. Customers love them and I don't think QF has trouble filling the things. I agree they are plug ugly.

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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    9 Jun, 2015 04:55 pm

    well on runs to LHR (a bit of LAX as well) QF is having problems filling those seats thanks to increased competition and partner in crime Emirates.

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  • djcz

    djcz

    9 Jun, 2015 08:13 pm

    I might be wrong but wasn't Qantas one of the airlines that helped create the B777 when it first began and decided not to take it up?

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    9 Jun, 2015 09:04 pm

    I too have heard this

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  • Colster

    Colster

    9 Jun, 2015 11:11 pm

    They'd better do something. https://twitter.com/AmericanAir/status/608250045289238530

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  • rambler

    rambler

    10 Jun, 2015 10:55 am

    This reads a bit like a Boeing PR-influenced story to me, as part of an ongoing campaign to denigrate Airbus, but having often flown on both current B777 and A380 across a number of airlines in both biz and cattle classes there is no comparison in general comfort and habitability - the A380 wins hands down. The 777X will have to be a great improvement to compete, but I guess economics is more important than passenger amenity anyway. 

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  • Bruce Robinson

    Bra

    10 Jun, 2015 11:32 am

    So emirates CEO Tim Clark says "The 8X is the real sweetheart, as it will fly to the other side of the planet with a good payload" The 8X has a range of 17220 km which will take 19+ hours. I think that there will be lots of air rage for those in Y class in a 3 3 3 layout with maybe 31 in pitch.

    I did a few trips from New York non stop to SIN (15350 km) with SQ and to BKK (14000 km) with TG in A340-500s. These flights have been discontinued for many reasons - higher fares, the cost of uplifting the fuel to fly that far etc. The longest flight that I had 18.5 hours EWR-SIN and this was in an all business class configuration with lie flat beds (SQ still have the best business seats in the A380 and B777300 ER) but even so it was not that pleasant.

     I am sure that the 8X and 9X will be excellent aircraft and the costs for ultra long distance flights will be less than those for the A340-500. But over 19 hours in Y class ?- no way for this old traveller no matter what the cost!

     

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    10 Jun, 2015 12:17 pm

    lol to support your rant I think you mean 3-4-3 for EK 777s.

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  • Bruce Robinson

    Bra

    10 Jun, 2015 07:20 pm

    Yes sorry 3-4-3 - even worse! I will stay with SQ 1-2-1 business class in A380 and B777-300 ER. Incidentally their A333s (which they were offered by Airbus at a very good price during the A380 delays) are not all that flash in business class 2-2-2 but the service is still outstanding.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    10 Jun, 2015 08:48 pm

    Yea but their newer seats in 77W are better.  I found the A380 style seats to be too short and the bed a too hard.  The new seat has better pitch and better padding on the bed part.  Also the slight reduction in width by 2inches just makes it a bit comfortable to sit in the middle.  I hate how other airliens advertised 1-2-1 but its like EK where its narrower than economy and is actually 2-4-2, just staggered so they can false advertise as 1-2-1.

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  • Michael Sheargold

    Aussie100

    10 Jun, 2015 02:03 pm

    But I love the A380... I hope the oredrs continue... such a great aircraft for passenger comfort!

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  • Herman  G

    mancho90

    10 Jun, 2015 03:14 pm

    How many of you have flown A350 and 787? Do not said that A350 is much better than 787... A350 is like a Hybrid of A333 and 787... Both has amazing features and similar range, noise levels in the cabin are about the same..actually 787 is a bit less. Windows are bigger in the 787... Both are very good airplanes but if designs counts.. 787 wins because visually has much more balance outside and inside.. they are very similar but windows give more sense of space to the cabin.

     

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  • Jack McNeill

    Skittles06

    30 Jul, 2015 07:15 pm

    Qantas having an all Boeing Fleet will be Awsome and they should place orders fro the 777-9X for 20, 20 for the 787-9 and 70 for the 737MAX-8 to replace the boeing 737NG.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    30 Jul, 2015 08:57 pm

    it would need more than that if they're to replace all those A330s and allow for expansion.  More like 40 789s.

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