In an historic agreement between Australian flag carrier QANTAS and European aircraft maker Airbus, a new deal has been forged to reinvigorate the carrier’s aging domestic and short-haul fleet. QANTAS has been a big supporter of the Boeing 737 for the last 30 years, flying models such as the 737-300/400/700 and of course the current workhorse, the 737-800. Competition between Boeing and Airbus for this lucrative deal was fierce with Boeing putting forward their 737 MAX as a logical upgrade option for the QANTAS Fleet.
With the average age of the QANTAS fleet of 737-800s being 13 years, it was time to update to more economical and eco-friendly modern airliners. Of course, when you’re going shopping it is best to go hard or go home. The QANTAS team took this rationale on board as they dangled a large order in front of both Boeing and Airbus. Not only was the QANTAS fleet of Boeing 737s up for replacement, but they also brought into the deal a requirement to replace aircraft in their subsidiary operators, QANTASLink and Jetstar.
So what have QANTAS and Airbus agreed for the updated QANTAS Fleet?
The deal that QANTAS and Airbus have agreed to is the largest single aircraft order in Australian aviation history and will be fulfilled over the next decade. So what is the deal exactly?
The 737-800 workhorse will be replaced by the Airbus A321XLR which is the largest member of the A320 family as well as the longest range. XLR stands for EXtra Long Range. The Airbus will carry 15% more passengers than the 737 it replaces. The other part of the order involves replacing the aging Boeing 717s operated by QANTASLink. QANTASLink is one of three airlines left in the world that still operate the 717. These aircraft will be replaced by the Airbus A220-300, the larger of the two variants of the type.
- Committed to buying 20 Airbus A321XLRs to replace the current Boeing 737-800s.
- Committed to buying 20 Airbus A220-300s to replace the current Boeing 717s.
- Further options for 94 more aircraft.
- The selcted engines are Pratt and Whitney.
This announcement will certainly hurt Boeing who is already reeling from challenges they have faced with the Boeing 737 MAX. QANTAS has been a customer of Boeing’s now since the 1950s, even at one point being the only airline in the world that had an all Boing 747 fleet. The change will mean that the Boeing 787 will be the only aircraft in the QANTAS fleet from Boeing. That was the result of a fiercely contested race between Boeing with the 787 and Airbus with the A350 back in 2005.
The next step for QANTAS is to obtain board approval to sign off on the deal which is expected in June 2022. Once signed off, deliveries should start in mid-2023 and go over a period of 10 years.