Should Qantas have bought the Airbus A350 instead of the Boeing 787?

18 replies


Member since 20 May 2015

Total posts 109

Wish it was the A350...much better plane.

+1 to that, A350 has much better dimensions with comfortable seating 9-accross. 

That's an overstatement. At armrest level the A350 is only about 3 inches wider than the 787 and can only reach 18" seat width because the armrests are slimmed to 1.5" (rather than the 2" used in the 787). The A350 does have a lot more shoulder space for those sitting in window seats though, I concede.

Yes, the A350 is wider and more comfortable. But the difference is modest rather than revolutionary. 

In addition, do remember that the 787-9 provides Qantas with an A330 replacement. The A350 is a great jet but its more of a 777 replacement than anything else. QF operated 747s and A330s... the 787-9 can replace A330s on a more-or-less 1-to-1 basis, whereas the A350 would've been too big to do so. Both jets can replace the 747s by adding frequencies, however the 787-9 could replace smaller jets more easily.

Not to mention QF got those jets for cheap, relatively early in the Dreamliner program. They'd have been silly to not take them at the discounts they received. 

None of this is to diminish the A350; the A350 is a fantastic jet and it will be very successful. It will replace 777 fleets very nicely, and can even replace A330-300s on longer-range and/or higher-traffic routes. But in the specific case of Qantas, the 787-9 is practically the Swiss Army Knife widebody for them (can replace the A330 and several 747 operations whilst opening a variety of new routes), and they got a great deal on it. 
It will be the 787-10 that will replace the A333 as it has A333 range and fantastic economics for the Sud 10 hour flights (albeit cramped)

The 787-10 is roughly the size of an A350-900 or 777-200. Qantas doesn't have too many routes which need that capacity; their "big" routes within the -10's range (say, SYD to HND or HKG) require larger than that size of jet, whilst their thinner routes need a smaller jet. 

The 787-10 is a killer jet (and will be awesome on transatlantic flights, and regional flights within Asia), but it doesn't really fit Qantas' needs. In addition the 787-9 gives QF better cargo capabilities. 

Another point is that depending on how Qantas configure the seating, the 787-9 can replace either the A330-200 or the A330-300; in a two-class layout the 787-9 will replace the A330-300s, but if QF decide to put Premium Economy onto the regional 787-9s (and I think they might given the width of the Comfort Canyon as well as Cathay and SQ proving that there's a market for the product) then the jet will be like the A330-200 in terms of capacity (but higher-yielding). 


Member since 20 May 2015

Total posts 109

I know this is a double post but I've done a bit of an analysis. The A350's claims of such incredible seat width are... well not entirely deceptive but overstated.

Calculating the "seating envelope" (aisles + armrests + seat pans) makes it clear that at the armrest level, the A350 only gives 1.4" extra space relative to the 787. The "five additional inches" the A350's specs promise actually are more around the shoulder region. So yeah, it is more comfortable to fly in (particularly at the window seat) but the way this comfort is represented, particularly as a function of seat width, is overstated and also a touch deceptive (in that the additional width is mostly shoulder room and only modestly contributes to seat widths). The A350 slims the armrests by 0.5" in order to get to 18" width. 

So how does this contribute to the debate? Only in the sense that the comfort promised by Airbus is an overstatement. The gain, whilst real, is marginal. Does a marginal increase in the comfort of Economy pax justify the A350 versus the highly favorable 787 acquisition terms? I don't think so. 


Member since 10 Mar 2011

Total posts 137

Why? I've been on both and they are much the same.... 

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 28 Oct 2011

Total posts 220

Many passengers will probably prefer the A350; Airbus seems to design for passengers. Many pilots will probably prefer the 787; Boeing seems to design for pilots/airlines.

I do think Boeing aircraft are better engineered and designed in such a way that there is not blind trust in the onboard computers always being right (which seems to be the philosophy at Airbus). If other things are equal - and options available - I always choose to fly in a Boeing aircraft, rather than an Airbus.

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