Qantas recently considered Airbus A350, staying with Boeing 787

Qantas recently considered Airbus A350, staying with Boeing 787

Read: Qantas to buy Boeing 787, first flights from 2017

Qantas has taken a second look at the Airbus A350 as part of its future fleet, CEO Alan Joyce says, but the airline decided to stick with the Boeing 787-9.

Speaking at this week's CAPA 2015 Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney, Joyce confirmed that the A350 was recently weighed up against the Boeing 787, with Qantas running the numbers on both of the next-gen jetliners.

"We looked at both types of aircraft, on what the relative positions of the A350 and Boeing 787 were, and we found on all accounts the 787-9 was the better aircraft for us, for the market that we're talking about and the network that we're talking about" Joyce said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce: the Boeing 787 remains the best fit for the Flying Kangaroo

Joyce added that Qantas was now in the stage of "working through the route economics and the network economics" of the Boeing 787.

Qantas was among the first airlines to sign on the dotted line for Boeing's 787, placing a staggering order for up to 115 Dreamliners in December 2005 for delivery beginning in mid-2008.

A series of delays pushed the Dreamliner's debut back to October 2011, with Jetstar seeing its first Boeing 787-8 in October 20-13.

Qantas also trimmed its order to a combination of 20 jets with guaranteed delivery from late 2017, with a further 30 'purchase rights' lacking a fixed hand-over timeframe.

The Airbus A350 was launched in December 2014 with Qatar Airways, while Qantas frenemy Cathay Pacific and staunch rival Singapore Airlines will both begin flying the A350 in early 2016.

Read: Behind the scenes of Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350 countdown

However, Joyce moved to dampen speculation that the airline would announce a Boeing 787 purchase at its financial results briefing later this month, when Qantas is expected to reveal a full year profit around the $900 million mark.

"The pilots' agreement was good step in the right direction to allow us to justify the business case for the 787, but we're still not there yet. The pilots agreement is one part of getting that business case to work (but) there are some more pieces of work that we have to complete."

That includes bolstering Qantas' balance sheet and "paying down a billion dollars in debt," Joyce said.

"We're now working through the route economics and network economics, and working out how we can justify the acquisition of the 787s – and if we can, we have plenty of aircraft options for 2017 onwards, so we're working through that process now."

Qantas needs to make its call on the first five of its Boeing 787-9 orders before the end of this year in order to lock in delivery for late 2017.

Also read: Qantas flags Boeing 777X as potential A380 replacement 

More Airbus A350 news from AusBT

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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.
 

32 comments

  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    6 Aug, 2015 09:37 pm

    I would opt for the A350 because for a bit more space as a passenger if they decide to go 3-3-3, but I can see why the 787 is good for Qantas as it's good to get into mid-level markets.

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  • hutch

    hutch

    6 Aug, 2015 10:49 pm

    Yep the A350 is Good for the passenger... but QF have those 787's at a very good price. 

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    6 Aug, 2015 09:49 pm

    3-3-3 Cozysuite would be the best option

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    6 Aug, 2015 09:56 pm

    I believe they will order the 787s on August 20. It's clear they have payed down the right amount of debt, (they have said themselves they were on track to do so). 

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  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    6 Aug, 2015 10:22 pm

    I personally think the direction that AJ has taken on weighing up the A350 and B787 is the utilisation. Obviously the majority of Qantas' markets are in direct competition with other airlines, hence it would be difficult to get sustainable loads on bigger aircraft to markets where demand is not as high, due to the competition. US seems to be the focus for QF at this stage, hence the B787 is able to economically fly less passengers and justifies having a smaller passenger count. This would also make sense in the Asian market, seeing as QF hardly has significant market share in many of its Asian routes (Dubai would be different as it is the secondary hub, but it is also heavily dominated by EK). 

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    6 Aug, 2015 11:53 pm

    The 787-9 is a touch smaller whilst also having substantially longer range than the A350. This makes more sense for QF. The -9 can do every route QF need, whereas the A350 could not. This makes the 787-9 the closest thing to a "one size fits all" airplane, an A330 replacement AND a new route opener.

    Plus they got the jets quite inexpensively. So yeah, pull the trigger Alan! Get those first five ASAP and you can replace those last remaining 747s with them!

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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    7 Aug, 2015 08:34 am

    I am not sure it substantially a longer range. They seem to be much the same. It sort of depends on the variant.

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  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    7 Aug, 2015 09:09 am

    A359 range with max payload - around 14350km
    B789 range with max payload - around 15200km

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    7 Aug, 2015 10:48 am

    Tthe 787-9 has a 15, 400km max range.

    It really is the best jet on the market for QF, I think. And given how cheap QF got them for it would be suicide to not take them.

    QF could also use Thompson's Cozy-Suite economy seat to make the "hell-ride" in the back the world's least hellish hell-ride. They could easily fit in 215 CozySuite seats (the LOPAs from Thompson and several other airlines seem to demonstrate that there's enough room), 32 Premium Economy seats and 28 Business Suites onto the jet. Which, coincidentally, just happens to meet their capacity target of 275.

    If QF did that... you'd have an epic leap for their hard product with a substantial improvement in their cost-base and operational efficiency.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    7 Aug, 2015 11:50 am

    Those cozy suites would make it extremely awkward for the wind pax to get in and out of their seat without knocking against the staggered seats.  Those seats would make me avoid the aircraft completely.  Having said that, I avoid 787s and 3-4-3 777s at all costs, which is made easy by only using SQ to Europe.

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    7 Aug, 2015 01:04 pm

    "Those cozy suites would make it extremely awkward for the wind pax to get in and out of their seat without knocking against the staggered seats."

    Well the seat bottoms retract slightly, and apparently this makes it a lot easier to get into the aisle. Sure, you have to think "diagonal, not straight across" but I don't think the general pax are incapable of understanding that. And frankly, QF will either go 9-across Sardineliner or 9-across CozySuite... I'd take the latter over the former and from a "competitive product" point of view the latter is the better option. It reaches an almost-identical density whilst preventing shoulder-rubbing or crusher-seats.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    7 Aug, 2015 01:27 pm

    lol "wind pax".  I agree its better than regular 787 seats, but for now i'll go without having to deal with either.  I've flown on 3-4-3 777 with EK and airNZ for 13hrs so I know how that feels.

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  • Stewart Smith

    ssmith3104

    7 Aug, 2015 02:07 pm

    Will the 787-9 have sufficient range to do DFW to MEL?  If so, I wonder if QF will offer it anyway.  Presently, they treat Melbourne passengers so badly that we have to get a domestic flight to domestic terminal connection to/from Sydney to get onto the A380 service to DFW.  Qantas don't even give us a 737 designated as QF7/QF8 to operate a MEL-SYD leg to the international terminal. They are SO Sydney centric. Makes me angry.

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    7 Aug, 2015 02:51 pm

    "Will the 787-9 have sufficient range to do DFW to MEL?"

    In theory it can, BUT the 787-9 recently had its maximum range estimate "revised down" by Boeing (so the 15, 400km figure I used above was... well... marketing BS). The 787-9 can JUST do SYD-DFW, however that's departing from Australia. On the way BACK, however, the prevailing winds would make the 787-9 have to either go via Brisbane or Los Angeles.

    The A380, which has quite a bit more range, still cannot do DFW-SYD at a full load of passengers.

    Perhaps if QF want to offer more DFW services, it will do a MEL-BNE-DFW route, but that wouldn't offer First Class.  

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  • Stewart Smith

    ssmith3104

    7 Aug, 2015 05:16 pm

    MEL-BNE-DFW would be fine by me.  My criteria is getting off and on an "international" flight in MEL (avoiding domestic Oz connections).  I sometimes go on Air NZ via Auckland, and will soon try their new 777-200 direct service AKL to IAH (Houston).  They don't fly it every day however, and often the connections from AKL to MEL are a slow 2.5 hours.

    Also, a funny thing at Auckland Airport, if connecting from a trans-pacific NZ flight onto a NZ trans-Tasman flight, they make you stand in a line forever to go thru a full security check all over again!  How stupid.  Passengers have never left a secure environment.

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    7 Aug, 2015 06:32 pm

    i've seen that at other airports...also the 777s will have the 3-4-3 shitness

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  • Shoudy Chen

    Shoudy Chen

    8 Aug, 2015 12:06 pm

    DFW-MEL distance is about 13900km so it would be enough to fly non-stop using a B789. But opting a B778 would be fairly ideal where it would compete against the B77L and would eventually be enough to fly between these two destinations without having to refuel.

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  • Dave

    Grannular

    7 Aug, 2015 09:35 am

    I would think price has a lot to do with it as well. The price locked in on the 787's in 2005 would be substantially cheaper than anything Airbus could offer now 10yrs later

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  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    7 Aug, 2015 10:30 am

    I think the A350 is a better aircraft and this could be a long term mistake.

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  • Anthony Spasevski

    Zaps1971

    7 Aug, 2015 11:18 am

    Again Qantas playing with your heads suckers!!!

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  • Rons47

    Rons47

    7 Aug, 2015 11:57 am

    I read the first available slots for the A350 are 2025 and I like alot of others if its not boeing I am not going

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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    7 Aug, 2015 02:02 pm

    i bet you have an iphone

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  • Rons47

    Rons47

    7 Aug, 2015 05:14 pm

    yes

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  • abudhabi1

    abudhabi1

    10 Aug, 2015 12:06 pm

    Qantas have had that Attitude about all Boeings for years.i think it was the inheritance of the TAA/Australian A300's for a while till they were phased out in 1998 and later the arrival of the A330 AND NOW THE A380 that has switched their thinking.

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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    7 Aug, 2015 12:24 pm

    Not bothered which one but please QF...get some new aircraft in!

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    7 Aug, 2015 12:24 pm

    The Cozy suit in 3-3-3 config in the 787 can do 20" width. Could. Qantas do this and then say 22" for PE and 23-24" for Business

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    7 Aug, 2015 02:01 pm

    The widest PE on a Dreamliner is Virgin Atlantic's 21", so I think its fair to say that's as big as Qantas PE will get. And 21" at 7-across is perfectly respectable. Its wider than most PE products, and could also be fitted onto the A380 at the same specs.

    Their A330 Suites are 23" across (between the armrests), and I think they'll stick with that measurement for the 787-9. More consistent experience, and the DL's extra width will allow them to widen the footwells (which would be a good comfort boost). Plus, frankly, 23" is the same width as Emirates First Class (and its wider in seat mode than Qantas' current First). They'll stick with 23" width.

    As for the CozySuite, I think 20" is a bit of an exaggeration... its probably something like 19.8" and Thompson round up. I think if QF go CozySuite they'll take 19" width. Widest Economy in the sky (this could also be fit at the same width on a 737, and QF has a lot of those) with no chance of cannibalizing PE demand...

    So that way, each class up you go, you gain an extra two inches seat width AND (assuming they stick with 38" for Premium Economy) an extra seven inches seat pitch (31" to 38" to 45"). So its a nice steady linear progression. 

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    7 Aug, 2015 02:10 pm

    Is 32" pitch fit for the Cozysuite economy over 31". I know it's only a fraction of a difference but it's just that I noticed other 3-3-3 airlines giving 32" pitch in economy 787

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  • Christopher Campbell

    Chris2304

    7 Aug, 2015 02:26 pm

    What's the chance Qantas/AJ will read anything what we've said about the configuration (Cozysuite) we would like and choose it

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    7 Aug, 2015 02:45 pm

    Ehhh, Qantas already use a 31" pitch, and I think they'll be unlikely to give any more. And width is more important to passenger comfort than pitch, so if the CozySuite at 19" gives you >1.5" extra width (plus separate armrests, upper body space and a sleeping surface), there isn't really much of a reason to add extra pitch... especially when the fixed back shell would preserve a passenger's impression of "my space" due to the lack of people reclining into it.

    And I have no idea whether Qantas or AJ lurk and read these forums. If they do, they probably select the most stupid comments, put them in a hat, then get wasted at the QF Xmas Party while reading them out aloud.

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  • tallinnman

    tallinnman

    7 Aug, 2015 03:35 pm

    If they bought the aircraft at 2005 prices when it was an 8 across in economy aircraft then why wouldn't they operate it as such?

    If they don't then I fear yet again they will have bought the wrong aircraft again, this time buying Boeing when it should have been last time.

     

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  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    7 Aug, 2015 09:20 pm

    Time's been a changin now. The market back then is totally different to what it is now. What may have been an economic-8 seater back then isn't the case in today's market (hence the majority of airlines bar JAL opting for 3-3-3 seating).

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26 May, 2019 05:44 am

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