Qantas expects first A320neo delivery end of calendar 2017

(Airbus)Qantas expects to take delivery of the first of 99 Airbus A320neo (new engine option) aircraft the airline group has on order from the end of calendar 2017.

The guidance for A320neo arrivals was outlined at Qantas’s 2015/16 first half financial results on Tuesday. Airbus delivered the first A320neo to Lufthansa in early January.

The aircraft are ostensibly destined for Jetstar as older A320s are paid off and to cover growth, although the company has not ruled out operating the aircraft on Qantas mainline domestic services to replace its Boeing 737-800 fleet.

Qantas chief financial officer Tino La Spina said the Qantas Group fleet plan offered “ultimate flexibility”, with new arrivals able to replace existing aircraft or to support growth.

“We’ve got 99 of those aircraft coming, and we’re due to take those from the end of calendar year 2017,” La Spina told reporters during Qantas’s results presentation.

“With respect to the 737 fleet in Qantas, the candidate aircraft really for that sort of fleet are the 737 MAX, which Boeing have launched, or the A320neo, basically the two narrow-body alternatives.

“At this stage we haven’t made a decision on those. That analysis still goes on, and we’ll make a decision on those when we need to, but we don’t need to make that decision yet.”

Qantas mainline has no outstanding orders for narrowbody aircraft, with the last new 737 – VH-XZP, Retro Roo I – delivered in November 2014.

Instead, Qantas has boosted frequencies and opened new routes through increased fleet utilisation across both its international and domestic operation, as well as switching capacity out of states impacted by the slowdown in mining activity such as Western Australia and Queensland and into areas of growth.

To that end, Qantas said it would add three more Fokker 100s to operate on intra-WA routes, replacing some 737-800s that will be deployed on international routes such as increased frequencies on the Perth-Singapore and Brisbane-Christchurch routes.

The domestic operation has also rolled out dual boarding and reduced turnaround times to get more flying out of the fleet. Further, Qantas’s Australian-registered 737s are currently undergoing a reconfiguration program, with six new seats to be added to the economy cabin to improve the operating economics of the aircraft.

In a slide presentation accompanying the financial results, Qantas said its fleet utilisation in the first half of 2015/16 was up five per cent compared with the first half of 2014/15, while its international fleet utilisation was eight per cent higher from two years ago.

On the international front, Qantas said it planned to maintain its Boeing 747-400/400ER fleet at 11 aircraft for the period ahead to take advantage of the growing demand for international air travel and lower fuel prices.

The two 747-400s previously earmarked for retirement will instead continue to take to the skies in Qantas colours and also receive a cabin update and heavy maintenance check.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said the decision to keep the 747s longer reflected the strong performance of Qantas’s international operations, and the economics of flying the four-engined aircraft during a time of low fuel prices and a weaker Australian dollar fuelling demand for inbound tourism.

“The reason why it’s working is the transformation that’s gone through international getting its cost base right, the Aussie dollar where it is, and the fuel price helping has made a lot of these routes very profitable for us,” Joyce said.

“So when we looked at the potential of keeping a couple of the 747s longer, to take advantage of that opportunity became a no-brainer for us.

“We have so much opportunity ahead of us in the growth potential of international, and with the performance of the business these extra 747s give us the ability to flex capacity up or down dependent on the circumstances. It’s a very efficient form of us keeping capacity within the fleet.”

A file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400ER at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
A file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400ER at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

The first of eight Boeing 787-9s are due to arrive in the Qantas fleet in the 2017/18 financial year and the airline has said previously those aircraft would be to replace five 747-400s due to be withdrawn from the fleet prior to requiring a heavy maintenance check and for growth.

Qantas has 15 remaining options, which have firm delivery dates and a fixed price, and 30 remaining purchase rights, which have a fixed price but no firm delivery date, for the 787 family that have to be exercised between now and 2024/25.

The planned arrival of the 787-9 from late 2017 has also prompted Qantas to hire 170 new pilots over the next three years.

For the second half of 2015/16, Qantas said it would add two Boeing 717-200s to the fleet, while three Q300 turboprops would be transferred from QantasLink to Jetstar’s regional operations in New Zealand.


  1. Jarden says

    So they will be sending 3 more Q300s to NZ. That will increase the fleet to 7 frames. I guess we can see new routes announced in the short to medium term. I expect they will target Christchurch in this expansion phase.

  2. Ty says

    Yes Christchurch is the next target for Jetstar regional with Christchurch- Dunedin, Queenstown, Palmerston North, Nelson likely. It’ll connect these cities with Qantas/Emirates/Jetstar Tasman & domestic services.

  3. Ben says

    Jetstar must be doing well regionally in NZ for them to get more aircraft, hopefully they will focus on CHC because the people there were disappointed that they didn’t get regional routes with Jetstar.

  4. Neil Fitzpatrick says

    Why doesen’t Qantas think about 747-8. To replace the 7474oo serious? Are we still getting the other 12A380’s?

  5. Christopher Campbell says

    Neil Fitzpatrick
    I believe Qantas will replace the B747 with a mix of B787-9 and B777-8 and the A380 replaced by the B777-9

  6. Craigy says

    Qantas only have another 8 A380’s on order and based on what Alan Joyce has previously said, they will never be delivered as 12 is the current fleet plan. Although I could see another three purchased which would allow BNE LA A380 services and a mixture of HKG and Tok services for the third. That would allow the intro of BNE LON services. Perhaps a mixture of BNE LON and PER LON with the B744

    Given the number of A32x orders and possibly purchase rights, maybe the A32X will find its way into the Qantas fleet afterall. The A321ER would do well on thin routes such as PER SIA

  7. Tim says

    If Qantas must continue in a partnership with Emirates then some of the 789s would be best used on routs from Brisbane and Perth to Dubai, possibly even Adelaide as well. Some of the 789s could also continue on to Europe, most likely Frankfurt and Paris.
    Leaving the partnership with Emirates and returning to using Hong Kong or Singapore as a secondary hub would work well particularly as several secondary cities on the east coast are in range of the A321LR from there.
    Although I think some more A380s would work for Qantas if they aren’t delivered Qantas must exchange them for other Airbus aircraft, the larger A350 probably being the most likely with the even larger double stretch also a possibility if airbus launch it.

  8. Chris says

    Christopher Campbell,
    Qantas will NOT be replacing the A380’s with the 777-9. I don’t know where you heard that from. The A380 is performing brilliantly for Qantas, especially on it’s US flights. Its low cost of operation per passenger and reliability is breaking new records at Qantas and the other airlines around the world who fly her. It is perfectly suited to the ultra long haul routes Qantas has her servicing.
    Qantas will also NOT be buying the 777-8x. This aircraft is a stopgap for Boeing to allow it to compete directly with the A350-1000 as there’s no 787 that will do that. I think you may have read Qatar Airways re this 777x.

  9. Christopher Campbell says


    Of course Qantas will buy the B777-8. Sydney-New York is a perfect example where QF can use it. And Perth – London, Melbourne Dallas.

    Having direct Syd-NYC would mean not LAX-NYC.

    It makes complete sense since QF is ordering the 787-9 and most likely ordering the 787-10 for A330 replacement to order the B777X.,

    Where did you hear that they won’t be buying the 777X?

    B777-9 replacement from mid 2020s.

    Although Aurbus created a stretched A350 beyond the 1000 it may be looked at by QF.

  10. Thomas says

    The 777x will replace the A380 if ordered. If you fly the 787-9 twice daily SYD DFW it can carry more passengers, give customers a choice of twice daily flight departures instead of being stuck with one time of day and it burns half to two-thirds the fuel and gets there faster as well!!!

    The A380 carrying around 450 passengers to LAX (or 350 to DFW; you have to able to fuel on with the weight), burns around 13-14 tonnes of fuel per hour on average going to the US versus a 787-9 carrying 250 passengers burning 4-5 tonnes per hour at Mach 0.855; the A380 cruises at around M 0.83!

    The A380 currently makes money going to the US only because of the ‘current’ fuel price. If that goes back to where it was 18 months ago, forget it! The A380 is better suited to routes over 8-9 hours (like Asia) not 14-16! Over these shorter routes it can carry a bit of freight as well which it can’t carry over the longer routes.

    The passenger experience on the A380 is great, but the operating economics aren’t that great when you have 4 Rolls Royce engines burning heaps of fuel. Rumour has it that the A350 with similar Trent engines is nearly 6% down on quoted cruise performance!

  11. Joe says

    Foresight to hire more pilots for new airframes on the way. Not a very hard concept to grasp Cathay Pathetic…

  12. Tim says

    “The passenger experience on the A380 is great, but the operating economics aren’t that great when you have 4 Rolls Royce engines burning heaps of fuel. Rumour has it that the A350 with similar Trent engines is nearly 6% down on quoted cruise performance!”

    Not idea where you get your info Thomas but all reports on the A350 say it is if anything exceeding it’s quoted fuel consumption by a few percent. The A380 also has a slightly higher cruise speed of mach 0.85 v 0.84 for the 777. Additionally the 777-9 doesn’t have the range requiring a significant downsize to the 777-8.

  13. franz chong says

    I am surprised it took them close to thirty years if we take the fact Australian were planning as far back as 1988 to replace 727’s WITH THE A320’s for Qantas domestic to finally do so.The Originals could have lasted from 1989 through to part of the 21st Century then new variants replace them.