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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says 787-9 configured for ultra long-haul

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 27, 2016

new Qantas livery 787
The first Qantas 787-9 will arrive in October 2017. (Qantas)

Qantas’s 236-seat configured Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will be capable of flying all of the ultra long-haul routes that have been publicly mooted in recent times, chief executive Alan Joyce says.

The seating configuration of Qantas’s 787-9s, which are due to arrive from October 2017, was revealed in front of about 1,000 invited guests, staff and media at Sydney Airport on Thursday. And with about 30 per cent of their seats dedicated to business and premium economy, the aircraft are more weighted towards premium passengers than any other widebody aircraft in the Qantas fleet.

Joyce said the Qantas 787s have been configured to be able to fly the likes of Perth-London Heathrow (7,829nm), Melbourne-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,814nm) and Sydney-Chicago (8,022nm).

“So we’ve modelled all of the routes, we know what the loads can be on it, we know the restrictions in parts of the year,” Joyce told reporters at Qantas’s Hangar 96 after the official unveiling of the new seats and new Flying Kangaroo logo.

“As you can imagine sometimes the winds are heavy and like on our Sydney-Dallas service parts of the year we can’t take a full load. That’s fine because the economics superbly work for the entire year. The lower seat configuration does help us with some of the routes that we are looking at.”


Boeing lists the 787-9 as having a range of 7,635nm when carrying 290 passengers in a two-class configuration, while a Qantas fact sheet released on Thursday promotes a range of 14,400km – or 7,775nm.

Currently, the longest route operated by a 787-9 is United’s 7,339nm San Francisco-Singapore nonstop service, which launched in June. United configures its 787-9s with 48 business, 88 extra legroom economy and 116 standard economy seats for a total of 252. Singapore Airlines uses Airbus A350-900s on the same route.

One route that has many genuinely excited is the possibility of linking Australia and Europe with a nonstop service between Perth and London.

Joyce said discussions with Perth Airport, the West Australian government and Canberra were ongoing, adding that he was hopeful of a positive outcome on what would be a “game-changing” new service.

“We hope to get to conclusions on that soon,” he said.

“We’re still in the midst of those discussions and there is always to-ing and fro-ing on those commercial discussions but it’s such a great opportunity for Western Australia. It would be a shame if we can’t close a commercial deal and WA and Australia lose out on this opportunity. I don’t believe that will happen but we continue with the commercial discussions,” Joyce said.

“We wouldn’t be talking to Perth Airport, which we are at the moment, about the possibility of doing the Perth-London, or the other airports about the opportunities that are there with this aircraft if we didn’t fundamentally believe we can do it.”

An illustration of Qantas's Boeing 787-9 cabin. (Qantas)
A cutaway image of Qantas’s 787-9 cabin configuration. About half the cabin will be given over to premium seating. (Qantas)

The fact that 30 per cent of seats – and roughly half the cabin space – has been given over to business and premium economy highlights that these ultra long-haul routes would be in demand by business and premium leisure travellers.

“We think on the routes that we are looking at that, the premium end is going to be sought after – direct flights as we’ve said on some of these routes have a lot of premium traffic and Qantas will be offering a unique proposition,” Joyce said.

“Therefore we think it is going to be very heavily patronised by business and premium economy customers. That’s what makes the economics of these services work.

“A lot of airlines have over 300 seats on the same aircraft. Some of the low-cost carriers have over 375 seats on this aircraft. It shows you that we are designing it with comfort in mind for long-haul flights like Perth to London, Sydney to Chicago, Melbourne to Dallas. We want to make sure that people have comfort appropriate for long-haul travel.”

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Comments (7)

  • Stephen Boyce


    Very impressive seating Qantas does need to order more boeing 787-9 like 30 and Airbus a350-900ulr and A3501000 to replace boeing 747. I hope CASA allows twin engined aircraft Sydney to Johannesburg and Sydney Santiago

  • Craigy


    Qantas will order more B789 and probably 10s. They have agreed delivery dates for more so I am sure they will confirm orders as required by the contract with Boeing.

    As for the A350, I think that very much depends on the numbers that they come up with during their internal evaluation of the A350 and the B778 for the planned route structure.

    Sydney Jo’burg is an issue because the shortest time is via Antarctica. Not sure that route meets the 330 min ETOPS reqt

  • Patrick Kilby


    It will also need some 78-10s for growing the Asian services and replacing the A333s in the longer term. They probably should start coming in from 2020 with the first few growing services then from 2022 replacing A333s

  • Rocket


    Hold on, isn’t the A350 a competitor to the Boeing 787-9, etc.
    If so, why would Qantas do something so aggregiously stupid as to buy two aircraft from different manufacturers to do the same job??? This was part of the problem with Ansett, A320s and 737s to do the same job. No advantages and twice the spares.

  • Patrick Kilby


    Rocket the A350 is the competitor for the 787-10 but with much greater range. Qantas will use the 78-10 for the Asian routes but for larger capacity longer range the 778 or A350 ULR come into play

  • J_sh


    So by shrinking the width of the economy seats to 17.4″” by configuring 3-3-3 when Boeing had 8 across when they coined the dreamliner term compared with the B747 or A380 with 17.5″, and say Cathay Pacifics’s B777 18.5″ (still 3-3-3) Joyce seems to be saying 17.4″ is better suited to SYD-ORD than 17.5″ on existing fleet. Jetstart do 3-3-3 (albeit less leg room) so why is Qantas squishing economy. with body sizes having increased since the 17.5″ economy seat became Qantas long haul standard economy seats this shrinkage is even worse than 0.1″ sounds, as sitting next to a plus sized person is already bad enough. Qantas 787 will be an aircraft to avoid if traveling economy, designed by David Caon and produced by Recaro does nothing to help and is PR fluff.

  • Tropicalcat


    Alan Joyce can talk till he’s blue in the face, but the spec of 3 3 3, with the seats having a smaller width than others in the fleet means his nose is growing..

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