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Qantas will use safety record to negotiate cut-price 737 MAX deal

written by Adam Thorn | February 24, 2020

Alan Joyce has hinted he could use Qantas’ status as the world’s safest airline to negotiate a cut-price deal to buy Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX when it returns to service.

Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian national carrier’s chief executive said, “If you look at it from an opportunity point of view, given the aircraft is going to be very safe, what will Boeing do to get the safest airline in the world to buy the aircraft?”

In January, the Australian national carrier topped a worldwide poll by AirlineRatings.com to determine the least dangerous airline, with the site hailing Qantas’ “amazing record of firsts in operations and safety”.

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Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce

Joyce said, “Qantas itself will put the [MAX] aircraft through its own lens to make sure we’re comfortable with it.”

Qantas is reportedly planning to place an order later this year for a replacement short-haul aircraft, with deliveries expected by the middle of the decade.

Boeing faces competition from Airbus, which has already sold Qantas 109 A320neos. It’s not yet confirmed whether they will be flying under the Qantas or Jetstar brands.

The A320neo has a capacity of 194 passengers and Airbus claims it is the “world’s most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft”.

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Meanwhile, Boeing is currently carrying out work and checks on hundreds of 737 MAX jetliners in Seattle that have been built but not delivered due to the worldwide ban imposed last year following two crashes that killed 346 people.

Last week, Boeing moved quickly to reassure airlines that the discovery of potentially dangerous debris in its fuel tanks would not delay vital maintenance work designed to return the stricken model to service.

The statement came after an internal memo leaked to Reuters revealed how ‘foreign object debris’ – thought to include rags, tools and metal shavings – was found in “several” grounded 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle.

A file image of SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 9V-MBA. (Wikimedia Commons/Anna Zvereva_
SilkAir Boeing 737 MAX 8

In the email, Boeing vice president Mark Jenks called the development “absolutely unacceptable” and added that “one escape is too many”.

Australia is one of 40 countries to have banned the aircraft, alongside territories including China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Oman, the European Union, Singapore and Canada.

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11 Comments

  • Lechuga

    says:

    I predicted this ages ago (and was shot down by a lot of people) even if they don’t order them, Qantas will look into them to get them extremely cheap and Boeing wouldn’t set the price tag too high as they want a big name airline with such a great record to show confidence in the airframe. A fair few -10s if there’s an order to be placed.

  • Radar

    says:

    If I recall right, Qantas purchased its first batch of 737-800’s just after the 9-11 attacks at a bargain price. Boeing was left with new aircraft sitting around the factory floor, as the public’s fear of flying caused a downturn in travel and a subsequent cancellation of orders by American Airlines.

    Silver lining around another dark cloud for the flying kangaroo?

    • Jack

      says:

      That is true. Qantas needed them in a hurry too due to the Ansett collapse.

      The other side if this though is at the time it was strongly rumoured that Qantas had signed a LOI with Airbus for the purchase of A320 family aircraft, but due to the need to get planes quick with Ansett going under that order was placed on hold and Qantas got the 737-800 instead which were readily available due to 9/11 and required less crew cross qualification.

      Then a few years later the A320’s that were covered by that LOI formed the basis of Jetstar, who of course came out of the purchase of Impluse also in 2001.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I am quite confidant that Mr. J. is playing games with Boeing and Airbus and I can see why, – it is very possible to get A/C ex Boeing now at a great discount but if is to be the B737Max I hope he gets full backing and support from the QF pilot group before financial commitment, it is those folk that hold the key to his success. As for me, the A321 would be a far better option

  • Patrickk

    says:

    They may split the order as they already have A321 XLRs coming so they may have say 30 A321s and 50 737s for different markets.

  • Patrickk

    says:

    They may mix the order as they have 12 A321XLRs on order so another 20 or so A321s for the triangle Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane and 50 737s for the rest.

    • Jack

      says:

      They wouldn’t run A321XLR’s on the golden triangle. That plane is for medium haul flying not short haul, it would be a total waste.

      A standard A321Neo would do the job nicely.

  • Paule

    says:

    This is the perfect opportunity for Qantas to do an amazing deal with Airbus. Ordering the A350-1000ULR coupled with a large order of A320/321’s as well as a commitment for A220’s in the future when the B717 reach the end of their service life would be an opportunity to get a fabulous price on everything!

  • Michael Andrew

    says:

    Qantas will order at least 100 737 MAX aircraft both 8’s and 9’s. These aircraft will be heavily discounted and have the additional knock on effect of giving Qantas real barging power for the purchase replacement for the A380 – the 777.

  • Michael F

    says:

    Agree with Paule that this actually gives Qantas a great bargaining position with Airbus. Already committed to the A350 and A321XLR/A320 NEO family, operationally speaking (as opposed to financially) the A220 family (-100, -300 and maybe -500) looks a great candidate to replace three separate aircraft (717s, Fokker 100s and 737s) with one single type. No need for a 737MAX in this scenario but obviously it all comes down to what discounts are offered. Could leave room for a 777X order as an A380 replacement down the line but by then maybe an updated A350 could be available.

  • isaac

    says:

    Allan Joyce is smart i think the max will be a good aircraft for domestic. i think he might have a mixed fleet possibly the a220 for qantaslink and max for qantas

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