Qantas “very keen” on proposed Boeing NMA widebody

Boeing’s NMA would sit under the 787-8 and above the 737 MAX 10 in its product portfolio.

Qantas says it is very interested in Boeing’s New Mid-sized Airplane (NMA) project to develop a new small widebody airliner.

Chief executive Alan Joyce revealed on Monday (US time) that Qantas is “very keen” on the prospects of the NMA, which he described as “a fantastic transcontinental and maybe [to] Asia aircraft”.

“The economics of that on paper look good,” Joyce said in a media briefing ahead of the airline’s first Boeing 787-9 delivery.

Boeing’s NMA study is focusing on 250-270 seat, 5,000nm range widebody aircraft that would sit in its product portfolio between the 737 MAX 10 and 787-8. It would feature a composite wing and fuselage.

“We think there is a bit of gap… and Boeing thinks that as well,” Joyce said, explaining the aircraft could be particularly useful as a way of providing domestic capacity growth into an increasingly slot-constrained Sydney Airport.

“This is where Qantas is probably unique because we want ultra long-range but we also have a huge domestic network, so you want an aircraft unlike the 787s and the A330s which are designed for long range and are heavier than what we want [for domestic flying] so the economics on domestic takes a hit, whereas this aircraft could be the perfect vehicle east-west, into South-East Asia and leveraging the [available] slots [at Sydney].

“And that is something that we are very keen on and are working through.”

Boeing said at the Paris Airshow at June the NMA – or middle of the market (MOM) aircraft as it has also been called – could fly in 2023 and enter service in 2025. It has forecast a market demand for as many as 4,000 aircraft in the size segment.

Comments

  1. Trash Hauler says

    All of a sudden QF is being very proactive and looking at new technology. VA are already lagging far behind in this regard- watch the gap widen more!

  2. Lechuga says

    I think it would be very welcomed especially for trips between the east and West Coast and even trans Tasman. Rather than 3-5 hour long trips in a narrow body.

  3. Tom says

    Trash Hauler ………….

    Qantarse frequent flyer programme is hopeless cf. Virgins when wanting to go to eg. USA.

    QF charges fees nearly at cost of cheapest ticket to LAX, whereas VA sit around $200 mark.

  4. NJP says

    Does an A330-neo offer sufficient improvements for high capacity, shorter distance and still give good economies of scale? Rather than an additional type?

  5. Ian says

    For many years QANTAS has been criticised for its lack of imagination, innovation and being prepared to lead – rather than follow. An article appears about what the airline is looking at re possibilities for its future fleet needs and NOW there are comments about it being proactive ? They can’t win.

    Additionally, how does anyone inject a comment on FF schemes when the subject is about future aircraft ???

  6. Stu Bee says

    @NJP, the A330 CEO or NEO isn’t the right aircraft for the ‘golden triangle’ routes. The A330 in QF service have always had landing gear issues due to the high cycle utilisation. Whilst they are good for the transcontinental flight they still prefer to stretch their legs out a bit longer.

    @Tom, I’ve never had an issue getting Qantas FF flights when i need them. Yes, I prefer QF to VA, that’s my choice…

  7. Patrickk says

    The A330 regional or neo will still have the weight problem AJ refers to. A new model will fit perfectly for transcon and shorter range Asia and the 78-10 for higher capacity longer range Asia.

  8. random says

    This is exactly the type that can allow QF and VA to break their capital-city centric operations and take on more point-to-point international regional sectors.

    The global and Australian markets need a mid-range short-bodied twin aisle – the old B752/B762/A310 type size at most – in mixed 3-class guise you get between 150-180 seats – which has the economics to sustain cities like Hobart, Canberra, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast and Townsville with meaningful direct international services.

    Cities like these are a somewhat untapped market for Australian carriers, and the key is not those who are traveling already via their nearest hub – it’s unlocking those that aren’t traveling.

  9. AJP says

    A healthy QF bottom line brings innovation and the need to be at the forefront of aviation technology. Exciting additions of WiFi, PERLHR non stop, ultra long range demands on manufacturers are all exciting developments. But then we add the realities of daily flying like charging additional fees for an exit row on 330/737, inedible economy catering (where the cabin crew advise how to complain about it), impossible legroom on most 737s and all 717s, Qantas Club’s so full it is more comfortable in the terminal, officious staff and the list goes on. Having flown over 60 domestic sectors on QF this year to be honest, I’d just rather the basics from Qantas so it is more than a dressed up Jetstar, and an airline we can all fall in love with again.

  10. Alan H says

    Boeing should never have ditched the B757. Now everyone wants that capacity and range again, albeit in a wide body configuration. Boeing should have developed the 757 (with it’s superior undercarriage arrangement over the 737) instead of streeetching the 737 over and over again and making it do what it wasn’t designed to do. But then again a NMA will probably be more acceptable to pax than a long narrowbody. Shades of a rebirth of the B747-SP concept?

  11. Scott says

    @ Trash Hauler

    The gap will widen ASSUMING Virgin don’t order another new type out to 2025. Some relevant points-

    a) QF is analysing the 737MAX, Virgin has them being delivered in 2019, delivered.

    b) The VA 777 cabin is the highest pax rated twin to USA, vs 34″ pitch PE and 9 abreast cabin in Y on a QF 787,

    C) VA will operate 330’s to a limited number of destinations vs QF 330’s from this article until at least 2025 till first deliveries of the MOM airframe. That’s the very first ones, remember the terrible teen 787’s at the start of that program.

    D) if QF orders MOM airframe for delivery VA may also, Both are hypothetical questions at the moment.

    E) FF query isn’t about getting a seat, the point @Tom is making is that QF FF program charges around $550 in tax, VA for a seat is around $50-80, that is the difference @Tom is referring to not FF seats.

  12. CXflyer says

    The a320neo can already do many point to point SEA destinations out of east and west coast Aus. I think it all depends on how QF wishes to configure and Boeing’s pricing for any new design which will need to recover development costs (potentially giving the a320 a huge advantage given Airbus will presumably be able to offer deep discounts in response). We will see increasing point to point operators in and out of SEA into Aus offering premium configurations on the a320neo and point to point convenience (ie. pax do not have to transit via Sydney!).

  13. Owen Langdale says

    Having recently done Lima-Madrid on an Air Europa 787 in economy with extra legroom selected, I’m seriously concerned about comfort as well as range etc in any newly delivered or conceived aircraft. Sitting in the middle of a 3-3-3 cabin (even with enough legroom) with my shoulder almost touching my neighbour’s, let alone wrestling for over 12 hours for the armrest, my next trip was planned three days later in Premium Economy on an SQ A350 AMS-BNE. Yes, more expensive but at my age (67) not all that more expensive. I equate P with what I experienced on a Qantas B707B in 1964 as a teen. Lots of talk about legroom these days but very little on shoulder room. My Madrid-AMS 738 flight connection was more comfortable, albeit short journey. Yes, slightly off topic, but every new aircraft seems to be pitching by necessity a larger P cabin. Certain people will pay for long leg comfort.

  14. Teddy says

    @Random

    Whilst you are probably right about this type of aircraft opening up direct regional international services to minor cities, the local airlines might not be interested in making the running in that untapped market.

    Easier to continually push the passengers that are willing through the capital city hubs and whilst claiming additional domestic fares. It’s lazy (some might say smart-lazy, but probably not), it’s lower risk, and it doesn’t involve having to ‘create a market’ and invest in sustaining that market in both directions (ie – getting inbound seats filled also).

    Townsville has just lost its Bali service for that exact reason, although why anyone ever thought Bali-Townsville was a better route than Singapore-Townsville or Auckland-Townsville is beyond me. Strangely enough two different airlines tried the route – who knows what their market research was saying, but it seems odd to have committed to that route twice before considering the others. One can postulate that the absence of a MoM / NMA aircraft option might well have been part of that strange decision process.

    A MoM / NMA aircraft would give a much better chance at sustaining 3 class services into Australian regional-city markets, particularly for inbound markets like China, Singapore and NZ – which could be ‘cultivated’ into far more diverse pax-loading than holiday routes like Bali-Townsville, provided that QF or VA want to make the running.

    Singapore Airlines has dabbled in this concept with the Capital City connection service Singapore-Canberra-Wellington – and one suspects it might have been even happier with the economics of the service if a MoM / NMA aircraft was available for the introductory period and low-season. Instead of 225-pax in 3 classes, they could have 175-pax in 3 classes, which might just make the yield more sustainable, and allow airlines to weather smaller pax-loads at various stages.

    @Random, the cities you identify are certainly in that mix – Hobart, Canberra, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, and Townsville are all under-represented for international services, but together they have a catchment of close to 2 million Australians – and at least a proportion of that population would have to commit to travel if direct services were at their doorstop.

    Local airlines it would seem are justifiably reticent in many cases unless the pay-off is obvious and relatively immediate…. but investing in and growing a market is seldom without spikes and falls in pax-loading. A MoM / NMA would be a fundamental tool to underwrite any move to increased direct services.

  15. Lechuga says

    @ Alan H

    The 787 is a 767 remake.

    -8 = 762 -9 = -300 & -10 =400

    Just has the range to go further if needed.

  16. random says

    @Lechuga

    Your sizing isn’t quite right in comparison to the B767.

    B787-8 is closer to B763 not B762.

    Boeing will need to downsize the B787 if they want to get down into B762 capacity.

  17. Mac Carter says

    Passengers and crew loved the B767 for its performance and roomy interior.
    Perhaps a smaller version of the B787 might be considered.
    Those of us old enough remember the B707 / 720 models of yesteryear..

  18. Lechuga says

    What was the name of that 787 regional again? 787-3 I think it was? Could that potentially be it.

  19. Teddy says

    @Lechuga

    I think you’ll find the 787-3 was short-haul but not short-fuselage.

    The MoM / NMA aircraft would appear to be quite a bit smaller than the 787-3 was projected to be (180+ seats rather than 280+ seats).

    Boeing would probably have to remove frames both fore and aft on the 787 to get an aircraft down to that capacity.

    Obviously a new design may be seen as easier than a significant fuselage shortening. The 747SP demonstrated that point – it required some significant re-engineering including the vertical stab to accommodate the stubby fuselage.

  20. GSS says

    @Alan H. I totally agree & if that’s what transpires i.e. a carbon fibre version of the 767 you’d get no complaints from me besides it seeming to be the logical solution as the 767 only got canned as it’d become technically antiquated so no longer economical compared to the slightly larger A330’s… It was easily the best domestic/short regional jet for the typical economy flying passenger that Qantas, AirNZ & not forgetting poor old Ansett.

    I wish Boeing had made the 787 8cm narrower so the airlines couldn’t have fitted in the unplanned 9th seat. Having flown the 787-8 & 9 several times now no doubt it’s a great plane that’s been totally ruined by the greedy 9th seat. Also having flown economy in a CX A350-900, an aircraft actually designed for 9 across seating there’s no comparison. Technically the A350 is a poor man’s 787 but from a typical economy passenger’s perspective the A350 wins hands down.