Qantas will consider its options for new narrobody aircraft in the ”medium term”, says chief financial officer Gareth Evans.
Evans was speaking in Seattle where Qantas had just taken delivery of its 75th and last Boeing 737-800 on order, the “retro” painted VH-XZP. That aircraft’s delivery means Qantas mainline currently has no outstanding firm aircraft orders, but that it is also nearing a long-held goal of fleet simplification.
“At some point within the next few years, in the medium term, then we will have to make an evaluation of the next Qantas domestic narrowbodies, the oldest of which are 12 years, 2002 vintage, so still relatively young,” Evans told Australian Aviation on the sidelines of the delivery ceremony for the retro 737 at Boeing’s delivery centre on Boeing Field.
“And that evaluation will of course look at the 737 MAX, which is a fantastic aircraft, and the A320neo as well, to evaluate those two aircraft to see which is the right one to bring into the Qantas domestic fleet.”
Competitor Virgin Australia already has 23 737 MAXes on order, for first delivery from 2018, while Qantas low-cost carrier subsidiary Jetstar has 99 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order for delivery from 2017. Both aircraft promise fuel-savings in the order of 15 per cent over current generation 737s and A320s.
“Qantas is at the right time going to invest in new generation [domestic] aircraft,” Evans said.
“The thing with fleet planning is it doesn’t make economic sense to have the newest thing right now. We’ve got great aeroplanes with lots of economic life left on them and the right economic thing to do is to use that economic life, and when the time is right you invest in the new technology, and that’s what Qantas will do.”
Meanwhile, the retirement of Qantas’s last Boeing 767s next month means the airline is close to realising its aim of aircraft type rationalisation.
“We’ve got the youngest fleet age we’ve had for 20 years, and we’re about to achieve a goal that we’ve been striving for for years which is fleet simplification, so the 767s exit the fleet on the 27th of December,” Evans said.
“They’ve been great aircraft, again reflecting the history of the organisation, a wonderful aircraft, but they’re now old and it is time for them to go. So we will now have a simplified, more modern, more efficient domestic fleet with A330-200s and 737-800s, and we’ve got the flexibility to flex capacity within that fleet up and down.”