Qantas has pushed back the deadline for exercising the first of its 50 options and purchase rights for Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft for 12 months and confirmed it has delayed delivery of Airbus A320neos for Jetstar by four years.
The airline group also plans to reduce its overall fleet to below 300 aircraft during 2014/15 as older aircraft leave the fleet and a number of leases are not renewed.
The updated fleet plan was released alongside Qantas’s full year results on Thursday, when the company posted a statutory net loss of $2.8 billion.
Under the restructured order book, Qantas said the first 787 options and purchase rights would now be in 2017, from 2016 previously.
Qantas chief financial officer Gareth Evans said pushing back the options and purchase rights were in line with the completion of the airline’s transformation plan.
“We’re very much looking forward to exercising those options and purchase rights and bringing those aircraft into the Qantas fleet,” Evans told reporters at the company’s full year results presentation in Sydney on Thursday.
“We’ve got to get through the transformation of the business first and drive the international business in profitability and we’re well on track to do that.”
So far Jetstar has taken delivery of seven 787-8 aircraft, which had enabled the low-cost carrier to transfer Airbus A330-200s back to Qantas. In turn, that will allow Qantas to retire its fleet of 767s.
Jetstar was expected to take 11 787s.
The Australian and International Pilots Association, which is the union representing Qantas pilots, said Qantas needed to invest in modern, fuel-efficient fleet to return its international operations to profitability.
“Qantas International is a prestige brand and passengers rightly demand the highest quality,” AIPA president Nathan Safe said in a statement.
“For the business to be successful Qantas needs to be offering the right aircraft. Today that means investing in new B-787s.
“You need to invest strategically if you want to generate growth. Slashing away and simply hoping things will turn around can never be the solution. You can’t cut your way to long-term success.”
In a slide presentation accompanying the financial results, Qantas said it took delivery of 23 aircraft in 2013/14 – four Boeing 737-800s, two Bombardier Q400s, five Boeing 717-200s, four Boeing 787-8s and eight Airbus A320s.
At the same time, 27 aircraft left the fleet – three Boeing 747-400s, seven Boeing 767-300s, six Boeing 737-800s, five Airbus A320s, two Bombardier Q200s and four EMB-120s.
From 308 aircraft at June 30 2014, the fleet was forecast to reduce by 10 frames to 298 during 2014/15.
The airline group planned to accept 10 aircraft deliveries – five 737s, four 787-8s and one Q400 – in the current financial year.
Meanwhile, 18 aircraft were due to be retired, comprising two 747-400s, all 13 767-300s and three EMB-120s. Also, two Airbus A320s that were currently with Jetstar would be returned to their lessors.
And in response to the “more subdued domestic capacity outlook and shift to more efficient utilisation of narrow-body aircraft”, Qantas was selling two 737s, two Q300s and five A320s that were on order for Jetstar during 2014/15.
Also, the leases on two Qantas domestic A330-200s would not be renewed, with the two aircraft due to exit the fleet in 2015/16.
Looking further ahead, the airline group has also converted orders for 21 current model A320s to A320neo (new engine option) aircraft and pushed the delivery dates on those new aircraft back four years.
The changes mean Qantas has orders for 99 A320neos, which Evans said were earmarked for the Jetstar’s operations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and, pending approval, Hong Kong.
“So those aircraft are now out into the 2020,” Evans said.
“The plan is and always has been that these neos will replace the existing ceos in the Jetstar Group. A large proportion of Jetstar’s aircraft are leased, were leased when Jetstar started and as the leases roll off, we will roll in the new more efficient neos over time.”