LONDON – In what has been a tough two years for aviation, Airbus has once again received what it hopes will be one of its largest orders from the Australian carrier Qantas who announced that an all airbus fleet would be its preferred domestic fleet. The carrier is expected to make a firm commitment for 40 aircraft – 20 A321XLR and 20 A220 aircraft by the end of 2022, which will follow on from the companies discussion with employees about arrangements to operate the new aircraft types and a final decision still to be made by the Qantas board.
Qantas will also have a further 94 purchase-right options on aircraft over a 10-plus year delivery window as its existing Boeing 737-800s and 717s are gradually phased out, many of which are still in storage following the travel restrictions placed on domestic travel in recent years. The airlines CEO Alan Joyce said that the airline has decided to call its renewal of the domestic fleet “Project Winton” which is the name of the town where the national carrier was born 101 years ago, stating that the name was not just important because of its historic past, but because just as when the carrier was first founded it is a key strategic decision which will affect the future of the entire domestic network for Qantas.
In a Statement, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “This is a long-term renewal plan with deliveries and payments spread over the next decade and beyond, but the similarly long lead time for aircraft orders means we need to make these decisions now. Qantas is in a position to make these commitments because of the way we’ve navigated through the pandemic, which is a credit to the whole organization.”
“This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future and we’ve locked in pricing just ahead of what’s likely to be a big uptick in demand for next-generation narrow-body aircraft. That’s good news for our customers, our people, and our shareholders. We’ll be having discussions with our people to ensure we have the arrangements necessary to support such a large investment.”
“Can I thank Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and the engine manufacturers for the efforts they put into this process. This was a very tough choice to make. Each option delivered on our core requirements around safety, capability, and emissions reductions. But when you multiply even small benefits in areas like range or cost across this many aircraft and over the 20 years they’ll be in the fleet, Airbus was the right choice as the preferred tenderer. The Airbus deal had the added advantage of providing ongoing flexibility within the order, meaning we can continue to choose between the entire A320neo and A220 families depending on our changing needs in the years ahead. The ability to combine the Jetstar and Qantas order for the A320 type was also a factor.
The order is in addition to the Jetstar agreement with Airbus for over 100 aircraft in the A320neo Family. Part of the new deal will include combining these two orders so that the Group can draw down a total of 299 deliveries across both the A320 and A220 families as needed over the next decade and beyond for Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar.
Mr. Joyce added: “The A320 will be new for Qantas Domestic, but we already know it’s a great aircraft because it’s been the backbone of Jetstar’s success for more than 15 years and more recently operating the resources industry in Western Australia. The A220 is such a versatile aircraft that has become popular with airline customers in the United States and Europe because it has the capability to fly regional routes as well as longer sectors between capital cities.”
“The combination of small, medium, and large jets and the different range and economics they each bring means we can have the right aircraft on the right route. For customers, that means having more departures throughout the day on a smaller aircraft, or extra capacity at peak times with a larger aircraft. Or the ability to start a new regional route because the economics of the aircraft make it possible.
“We have some exciting plans for the next-generation cabins we’ll put on these aircraft, which will offer improvements for passengers that we’ll share in coming months. Importantly, these aircraft will deliver a step-change in reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions compared with our current fleet, which gets us closer to the net-zero targets we’ve set.”
Once the deal is finalized next year it will become the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation history and will also be one of the largest orders Airbus has ever received for the A320 and A220 family aircraft, but more importantly, it strikes a huge blow to Boeing who has been plagued with issues and sales following the grounding of the 737MAX family aircraft.