UPDATE | Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliners will offer business class, premium economy and economy, the airline has confirmed.
Its first international route will also be one that's currently operated by the Boeing 747, although there are no hints yet as to which route or even destination that will be.
Come early 2017, the first new international route for the Dreamliner will also be announced, with Melbourne-Dallas, Sydney-Chicago and Perth-London all up for consideration.
Continue reading: Qantas reveals Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner seating, configuration
PREVIOUS | Qantas will add the Boeing 787 to its international fleet, confirming an order for eight of the next-generation jets with first flights slated for October 2017.
Four of the fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9s will be delivered in the 2017-2018 financial year, with the next four from 2018-2019.
The Dreamliners will replace five Boeing 747s and also be used to launch new international destinations.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce cited Melbourne to Dallas/Forth Worth as a potential Boeing 787 route.
"Obviously a market like Melbourne to Dallas opens up as an opportunity for us" Joyce suggested as an example of "long-range routes we don't fly today."
Also on the list are "routes that have low levels of traffic that don't justify a Boeing 747, and routes that are less frequent which we want to get to daily."
"Because the 787 is smaller than the jumbos it will gradually replace, it gives us the flexibility of having more aircraft without significantly changing our overall capacity."
Qantas' initial Boeing 787 order includes three aircraft previously pencilled in for Jetstar, which have been converted from the smaller 787-8 to the larger and longer-range 787-9.
Qantas still has 15 purchase options and 30 purchase rights up its sleeve "and eventually the rest of the Boeing 747s and Airbus A330s will be replaced" Joyce confirmed during the airline's FY15 briefing in Sydney this morning, where he reported a near-$1 billion profit.
"But it depends on the performance of the group, like anything," Joyce added, allowing that Qantas has "significant flexibility over the timing of delivery should they be exercised."
Inside the Qantas Boeing 787-9
Qantas promises its Dreamliners will have "world-leading cabin interiors", and each of the red-tailed Boeing 787s will be fitted with "approximately 250 seats" in a three-class layout.
Joyce has previously confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the 787-9s would sport the airline's latest Business Suite (below) at the pointy end, although with delivery some two years out this could be an improved version of the same design.
This would be followed by premium economy and economy cabins, with the later expected to see a 3-3-3 seating layout.
Qantas recently took a second look at the Airbus A350 as part of its future fleet but decided to stick with the Boeing 787-9.
"We looked at both types of aircraft, on what the relative positions of the A350 and Boeing 787 were" admitted Qantas CEO Alan Joyce at the recent CAPA 2015 Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney, "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."
Long road to the Red Roo's Dreamliner
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 2013.
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.
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