Qantas has today announced firm plans to introduce the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to its fleet, ending years of uncertainty about its red-tail 787 orders. Eight new 787-9s will enter the fleet between 2017 and 2019. Qantas will retain options for 15 aircraft, plus purchase rights for another 30. The aircraft will replace older Boeing 747-400 aircraft used to ply routes across the pacific, and to Johannesburg, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
The announcement comes on the back of stellar annual results, with a jubilant CEO Alan Joyce announcing an underlying profit of AUD 975 million this morning. This represents a huge turnaround for a balance sheet that has been in the doldrums since 2009.
The Qantas Group has already been flying the smaller 787-8 version of the Dreamliner in its Jetstar low-cost subsidiary since 2010, and by the end of 2015 will feature a long-haul fleet consisting of only the 787. Speculation now turns to whether Qantas mainline aircraft will replicate the squeezy 3-3-3 seat layout seen in its Jetstar 787-8 cabins, or whether it will offer a 2-4-2 layout more fitting of a premium airline. While no announcements about this have been made, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.
The Boeing 787 aircraft are great to fly, featuring improved cabin pressure, larger windows and technology to reduce turbulence. These features combines to reduce traveller fatigue, which will be particularly important on the 787-9 as an aircraft designed to fly longer-range routes.
More on the Qantas 787 can be found here.