Qantas has announced it will lease an additional five 717s and purchase three more Q400s to bolster its domestic business, as well as cancel a single 787-8 order for Jetstar.
In what is a clear competitve response to the announcement by Virgin Australia it is seeking to grow its regional airline portfolio through the acquisition of Skywest, the additional Boeing 717s and Bombardier Q400s will support Qantas’s defensive position on thinner regional routes, particularly in Western Australia. Qantas’s existing 717 fleet is operated for QantasLink by Cobham.
While announcing the additional aircraft, Qantas said it had cancelled a single 787-8 scheduled for delivery to Jetstar. The cancellation is unrelated to the current 787 technical issues and grounding, with Qantas saying the decision to “amend” the 787 order was taken at the end of 2012. The remaining 14 787-8s will be delivered to Jetstar as planned from mid-2013, with the first of the new aircraft having recently entered production.
A Qantas spokesman told Australian Aviation the single cancellation does not suggest a change to Jetstar’s international growth plans, but reflects the flexibility inherent in the Group’s 787 remaining orders and purchase rights for 50 787s that will allow it to convert options according to market demand.
“Jetstar will continue to grow. This is about using the flexibility in our order arrangements for the 787.”
The flexibility of purchase rights will also enable Qantas to switch between 787-8 and 787-9 models, the spokesman said.
Qantas said the fleet changes will not have any material impact on the Group’s planned capital expenditure, suggesting the cancellation of the 787 will help fund the new aircraft.