Qantas Group updates fleet plan to boost its capacity

A Qantas Boeing B737 taxiing
Robert Frola (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Australia’s Qantas Group has made several updates to its fleet plan, designed to help restore capacity faster and meet strong demand as leisure travel and domestic freight markets rebound.

Fleet expansion

The Qantas Group currently has orders and purchase right options for up to 299 narrowbody aircraft, as well as firm orders for 12 widebody aircraft with Airbus.

This planned expansion will update and grow the carrier’s fleet over the next decade and beyond.

Four of those aircraft have already been delivered and nine more are expected to arrive this year. The breakdown of the 2023 deliveries is: 7 x Airbus A321LRs for Jetstar; 2 x Airbus A220s for Qantas Domestic.

These nine aircraft are in addition to three Boeing 787s, however rolling delays of up to six months for other aircraft are anticipated over the next couple of years due to global supply chain issues.

The proposed fleet changes

Core to the changes announced today is the decision to acquire several mid-life A320-family aircraft for freight and resources customers to help offset the anticipated delays in aircraft deliveries.

Once the delayed aircraft are delivered, the Group then has the option to retire or retain the aircraft they were originally designed to replace, depending on market conditions.

In summary, the national airline’s planned fleet changes are:

  • Five mid-life A319/320 aircraft to support the growth of the resources market in Western Australia, for delivery in FY24.
  • Three additional mid-life A321P2F aircraft to accelerate renewal of Qantas Freight fleet, for delivery in FY25 and FY26.
  • Two additional A320s for Jetstar Asia as demand across Asia rebounds, for delivery in mid calendar year 2023. This will bring its total fleet size back up to nine aircraft.
  • Options for up to 12 additional E190 aircraft to be wet leased from Alliance Airlines to provide increased capacity and network connectivity in the domestic market.
  • Exercising nine existing purchase right options for A220 aircraft, for delivery in FY26 and FY27 as part of ‘Project Winton’ deal with Airbus.

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has welcomed the decision to acquire the nine additional A220 aircraft; taking to social media to congratulate the Australian carrier.

The investment in additional fleet is accounted for as part of the increase in Qantas’ FY23 and FY24 capital expenditure, announced in the Group’s first half 2023 results today.

CEO statement

Addressing the fleet changes, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We’re at the start of a major update of the Qantas Group fleet that will unlock a lot of benefits.”

“The aircraft we have on order will help us lower emissions, expand our network, create new jobs and ultimately serve our customers better.”

“Aircraft manufacturers are seeing the same supply chain delays as a lot of other industries and we’ve been told that some of our deliveries will be pushed back by up to six months.

“When you combine the delays with the sustained growth in travel demand that we’re seeing, we need to find other ways to lift capacity in the short and medium term.

“Wet leasing more aircraft from Alliance Airlines will provide a very rapid injection of extra capacity domestically, but with plenty of flexibility to adjust that over time depending on what is happening in the market.

“The arrival of new narrowbody aircraft into Jetstar, in particular, was creating a pipeline for existing aircraft to be used for freight and resources markets. Given the new aircraft are delayed, we’ll buy a number of second hand A319/320s to make sure we can still meet demand from our customers.

“Jetstar Asia shrank during the pandemic but with travel in Asia rebounding, now is the right time to put two aircraft back in.

“We’re fortunate to have the scale and the balance sheet to make these decisions, as well as a lot of flexibility in our fleet plan to make adjustments as we need to.”

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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