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Exclusive: Qantas takes delivery of new 787 after 2-year delay

written by Adam Thorn | May 1, 2023

Victor Pody shot Qantas’s latest 787-9, VH-ZNL, arriving in Melbourne.

Qantas has taken delivery of the first of its final batch of three 787-9 Dreamliners after they were delayed for two years.

Australian Aviation’s Victor Pody shot the moment VH-ZNL touched down in Melbourne on Sunday after flying from Boeing’s factory in Everett.

The news means Qantas now has 12 of the aircraft type, with a further two due to arrive before the end of June.

The planes are necessary for the Flying Kangaroo to increase capacity and launch new routes in time for the crucial Europe and North American summer season.

Like previous Qantas 787-9s, the final three aircraft will feature 42 business class lie-flat bed seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 166 economy seats.


CEO Alan Joyce has said the new aircraft will provide additional travel capacity and allow Qantas to keep its fares lower.

Qantas is looking to expand its international services with the 787s and is currently in talks with Air France to develop a direct route from Perth to France, as well as several other additional European locations that would bolster Perth Airport as the country’s western international travel hub.

“We want to do Paris, and we’re talking to Air France and other European airlines about how we could do that,” said Joyce earlier this year.

It comes months after the FAA temporarily banned Boeing from delivering the aircraft to customers, raising doubts as to whether Qantas would receive its aircraft at all.

The incident related to concerns around a data analysis error relating to the aircraft’s forward pressure bulkhead.

The 787’s forward pressure bulkhead, manufactured by Spirit Aerosystems, has been a thorn in Boeing’s side for several years, with deliveries previously halted in May 2021 after gaps were discovered around the structure, which is situated in the nose of the fuselage and serves as a barrier for the pressurised inner cabin.

The February delay came just six months after Boeing agreed to replace the bulkhead and was cleared to restart deliveries last August, with the planemaker saying the documentation error was unrelated to the previous hiccup.

News of the new aircraft come after Australian Aviation reported last week how the president of Qantas’s pilot union has urged the airline the urgently invest in new aircraft to add capacity to international routes.

In a significant intervention, AIPA’s Tony Lucas told The Australian the airline needs another four 787s on top of the three due to arrive by the winter.

“We’ve got 49 options (for 787s), but if you order those now, it’s probably three-and-a-half years before the jet turns up,” Captain Lucas said.

“So that means no increase in the main line fleet for the next four years, and at the same time, two A330s have just been sent to Germany to be converted into freighters. At a time when you’re short of passenger capacity, it seems a strange decision to make.”

Qantas is currently in the middle of a huge fleet renewal program that will see it completely overall most of its domestic aircraft, largely replacing its ageing Boeing 737s with next-generation Airbus A321XLRs and A220-300s.

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