New for the Roo: Qantas gets its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

By David Flynn, October 20 2017

It’s been 4,329 days since Qantas first inked its deal for the Boeing 787, but on this grey morning a Dreamliner dressed in the airline’s iconic ‘flying kangaroo’ livery soared into Sydney as the first member of what Qantas intends to be a steadily-growing fleet.

That initial order was announced in December 2005, almost 12 years ago, at a time when the Boeing 787 was a ‘paper airplane’ existing in only drawings. Boeing had yet to build the advanced jet, let alone fly it.

That first test flight happened in December 2009, after a series of delays and setbacks not unusual for the introduction of any new aircraft – let alone one as radical as the Dreamliner, with its carbon-fibre composite construction – and it wasn’t until September 2011 that global launch customer ANA collected the keys for the world’s first airline-ready Boeing 787-8.

Two years later, in October 2013, the Qantas Group took delivery of its first Boeing 787-8, but in the stripe of low-cost airline Jetstar rather than the parent brand.

Behind Qantas' Dreamliner delay

So why is it only now – with 11 Boeing 787-8s in the Jetstar fleet and the more modern 787-9 model being flown across Australia by some ten international airlines – that Qantas is taking ownership of what happens to be the 615th Boeing 787 to be delivered?

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller on board the Qantas Boeing 787-9, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says Boeing’s original delay was compounded by the global financial crisis.

“Qantas was very prudent on managing its balance sheet and making sure we could get through that” he reflects.

“We also had commitments with other aircraft that had to lead (the Boeing 787) such as the Airbus A380, which we took delivery of in 2008, and they were pretty expensive – we spent over $4 billion in replacing the old Boeing 747s with the A380s.

“So that had to become a priority, which meant we had to push the Boeing 787s out until we could afford them… and now with the airline doing so well we can certainly afford them.”

Two more Boeing 787-9s will arrive in December 2017, and another in late February 2018,

Earning their keep

The Dreamliners will begin earning their keep from December 15 2017 when they take over the Melbourne-Los Angeles route, but the kicker will be the March 2018 launch of non-stop flights between Perth and London – an 18 hour trek which will finally remove the need for a stopover hop from the Kangaroo Route between Australia and the UK.

That flight will join up with the LAX service in a sweeping arc from London to Perth to Melbourne to Los Angeles – a pattern which Joyce describes as four of the Dreamliners painting a ‘smile’ across half the planet. 

The next two Boeing 787-9s – due for delivery in July and August 2018 – will take the Brisbane-Los Angeles-New York route under their wing, with Qantas’ other Sydney-LAX and Melbourne-LAX flights connecting to the New York-bound Dreamliner.

Before the end of 2018 another pair of Dreamliners – the last in Qantas' current eight-strong order – will open up a second Brisbane-US route.

Joyce says that route will either be Seattle, where Qantas will work with partner Alaska Airlines, or the Chicago or Dallas hubs of US partner American Airlines.

Up next: Perth to Paris

The next pins to drop onto the Dreamliner’s network map will be Paris and a German city, tipped to be Frankfurt, along with new routes to the US and perhaps Asia – but those flights won’t start until at least 2020, when Qantas will have the option to take up a second tranche of Boeing 787s from its 45-strong order book.

Joyce says those purchases will depend on the Boeing 787-9 proving its mettle, both in terms of delivering the promised efficiencies – which is in little doubt – as well as how passengers embrace the non-stop Perth-London service, which is central to Dreamliner’s role in Qantas.

David Flynn travelled on the delivery flight of the first Qantas Boeing 787-9 as a guest of Qantas

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

With such a limited fleet and flight crew trained specifically for this B789 and presumably no longer able to operate the Airbus A380s, what will happen when a B789 fails, especially during busier travel periods when other flights are full?

Will passengers be marooned for a while in London (or Perth?)

Will there ever be a 'spare' B789 or is the fleet basically running almost all the time except for some gaps between each flight?

Chris2304

Chris2304

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 386

there is always one pessimist

Gswift

Gswift

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 11

The Airlines should be more than experienced with what to do here as they have multiple examples of out of service A380's or turn around events after engines blow etc.

justin.thomas7

justin.thomas7

19 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

Qantas doesn't have a spare aircraft at every port for every type. This is not a new problem.

Not sure why they will no longer be able to operate the A380, they will be in service for many years yet. If you mean routes that the A380 can't fly, PER-LHR is the only one. This is easily solved by re-routing the PAX via DXB or SIN, perhaps with an A380 flying MEL-DXB/SIN-LHR.

Also, they will have to consider deep level maintenance for the B787-9 so I'm sure there's redundancy in their schedules.

AWA2602

AWA2602

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 207

These issues and challenges are basic table stakes for every airline. An airline as tenured and experienced as QF has the know-how to deal with these inevitable problems.

japanair772

japanair772

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

09 May 2017

Total posts 14

Wonder which routes Sydney will serve......

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 317

Qantas has said that the first four 787s will be based in MEL (doing routes to LHR and LAX) and the second batch of four 787s will be based in BNE (doing routes to LAX/JFK and a new US city). So at this stage, no 787s will be based in SYD. No doubt that will change once they place further orders.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Would be nice to know but as long as we have the 380 service that's fine by me.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

No Qantas Boeing 787s slated for Sydney until Sydney is decreed as a 'base' for them, which could happen if & when (much more likely 'when') Qantas orders more Dreamliners... if Sydney then becomes a base for them, as Melbourne and Brisbane currently are, then we could see routes such as Paris-Perth-Sydney-San Francisco for example.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

The difference, Chris2304, is that presently with QF1/2/9 and 10, if there's a failure, at times QF terminates one flight at DXB to minimise delays.

But with two different aircraft types flying different routes into LHR, that sort of flexibility will no longer be an option.

So it's a legitimate question.

I try to avoid flying on airlines with very limited fleets. It's not always possible to avoid them, of course, if one is travelling to a boutique destination but to LHR, there's quite a few airlines with multiple daily flights that offer a bit more certainty if things go wrong.

Yes, Emirates is part of the deal but it is a separate airline and may not always have sufficient available spare seats either overall or in particular cabin classes.


hutch

hutch

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1218

If QF terminates a flight at Dubai to re-accommodate other passengers, there a still passengers stuck somewhere who will get delayed. This would be the same across their fleet really. They get put up in a hotel overnight, re-booked to other QF or re-routed on other carriers (noting that QF had major issues terminating a flight in DXB last year leaving those passengers stuck - so it is not always a desirable solution).

I would hazard a guess that people that run airlines would have plan for these things. Sometimes those plans will work well, other times they will not and then you'll see it on the front page of the Tele.

If certainty is important to you, then your decision to fly airlines that operate many flights into LHR is indeed a good one. QF replacing an A380 with B787 does not have any bearing on the frequency of QF flights into LHR.

CBR boy

CBR boy

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 83

You are absolutely right. The initial Qantas 787 operations will be very vulnerable to delay and cancellation as there will be zero redundancy or backup given that they are operating unique routes.

69Shania69

69Shania69

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

17 Apr 2014

Total posts 15

In my view (which I am entitled to), Qantas is dreaming if they think that direct long haul flights like Perth to London will bring home the bacon. The truth is that the A380 is a much maligned aircraft. True that it does have service issues at times, but you could argue that with many aircraft. If Airbus felt they could upgrade the A380 with more composites and a NEO option, then personally I think it is a winner. The reason is that most major airports are short of slots, especially those with stupid curfews. With passenger growth set to balloon, where will all these direct flights using smaller capacity get the slots from.As a sideline, Qantas may think they have done the deal on the Tasman at the expense of loyal Emirates passengers on this route. Do they seriously think that flying on a 737 at no doubt ever increasing fares due to lack of competition will bring home the bacon. I for one do not support sub standard service, on boring aircraft with lousy meals. Also, give me the a350 over a dreamliner any day.

freshthoughts

freshthoughts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

The degree to which qantas has hyped the delivery of this mediocre aircraft is ridiculous.

FFS, they're milking it more than the Singapore delivery of the first A380 and the 787's have been in service or years.

Too add insult to injury its not even a good plane on the passengers part unlike the A350

Chris2304

Chris2304

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 386

its a big thing for qantas because of the long wait and the potential that this aircraft brings to qantas' international network. Yes they are not the first airline to revive the 787 they know, again its what the aircraft capabilities can do do improve the network. And for that reason I don't believe it is over hyped.

DGP

DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 169

I haven't flown on the A350 yet and have only flown the LATAM B789 a couple of times. Can you tell me from your experience what is better on the A350 to the B787? Thanks

Chris2304

Chris2304

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 386

The 787 helps Qantas’ network probably more than any other airline because of where Australia is on the globe.

Packetman21

Packetman21

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

Well, the A350 I believe would not have even been put onto the drawing board. It is a no brainer for Qantas.


Yes, the A350 admittedly is a better aircraft, but what about those rediculously low prices they got for them? How about the flexibility to have one long haul fleet type for both Jetstar and Qantas to switch engines, parts... how about having statistics that they can work with for the aircrafts operational performance gained from Jetstar?

hutch

hutch

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1218

And good on them... they are a business and are using it for PR & marketing. You have opened an article on it, so it is working.

CWT Traveller

CWT Traveller

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Sep 2011

Total posts 14

That really is so true.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

I've not yet travelled on an A350 but I have with two carriers on a B789: the experience was underwhelming.

DGP

DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 169

Actually MEL-LAX on the B789 will commence on 15 December.

Rod H

Rod H

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 111

The A350 is miles ahead of the B787 for Pax comfort. I have had a few trips in J class on both and the A350 leaves the B787 for dead , it's that much better!!!!!

TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 39

Surely when travelling in J class that is purely a matter of product and design? I have flown three different airlines in J recently - airline A and B were on 787-9s, and airline C an A330. The products were vastly different. Airline A always ranks very highly in business class rankings, always top 10, but was a far worse product in my opinion than B and C who do not rank at all. I'm actually baffled by airline As consistently high J class rankings.

MF

MF

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 2

Have flown both the A350 and 787 in both biz & premium and feel the A350 is superior comfort wise (legroom, headroom, noise) and lacks the gimmicky 787 windows, but frankly the difference is marginal and both are excellent aircraft.

pan129953

pan129953

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 7

A350 beats B789 hands down, especially the Qatar A350. The striking difference between Qatar A350 and those of CX or Finnair is the absence of centre overhead bins in Business class. Sense of open space is much greater.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2917

Finnair doesn't have centre overhead lockers in business class on the A350. Cathay Pacific does, however.

walterong

walterong

QF

15 Apr 2015

Total posts 15

You’re probably mistaken, as Finnair J does not have the central overhead lockers

levelnine

levelnine

27 Apr 2017

Total posts 39

Indeed, I agree with all of the above posters. The A350 is a superior aircraft to the B787 for passenger comfort.

It demonstrates one of the problems with signing up to buying an aircraft in 2005 and taking delivery of it in 2017 -- the competition has come up with a superior offering by the time you even get your first plane.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1117

This. Could not agree more.

Grannular

Grannular

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 287

Yes but, Qantas paid 2005 prices. They wouldn't get A350's anywhere close to the same prices. For Qantas not to take delivery of 2005 priced 787's would be madness

PERflyer

PERflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 80

A350 is superior from a pax point of view for comfort no doubt about it. Usually the same seat config with wider cabin makes the y 3-3-3 in 787 a big squeeze for shoulder width. Definitely noticeable when flying them back to back

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 249

I’ve flown the Jetstar 787 multiple times in premium economy (I can’t bring myself to call it business!) and economy and have found myself feeling more refreshed on landing than after flying on other planes for comparable distances (A330 for example).


I haven’t been in an A350 but can’t understand the negativity above. The comments seem very fitout specific rather than being about the pure metal too.

I am due to fly back from the States in March next year and elected the 787 service over the A380 (which I am flying on the way there). Very keen to see the difference between them.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 359

Meh give me an A350 / A380 anyday for the distances we need to fly as Aussies. They may have bought the 787 cheap ages ago but what was the point if there is an aircraft better than it? They could have saved heaps and bought the A330 NEO which is direct competitor for the 787 and saved millions. The only saving grace of the QF 787 is that they ordered the quieter Genx engines and not the Rolls Royce troubled and loud monsters. It still won't be as quiet as an A350 let alone and A380. It will also be better than a 747 they will replace from every aspect except space. A380 was much more a big deal than this 'plain'.

kabe100

kabe100

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 33

"They could have saved heaps and bought the A330 NEO which is direct competitor for the 787 and saved millions."

Wrong... A330neo does not have the range that 787-9 does among other features such as high humidity, low pressurization altitude and non-bleeding technology.

MF

MF

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 2

The consensus seems to be that generally the A350 offers a better customer experience, despite specific customer fit-outs. Note JAL have 2-4-2 in economy which is one less seat than other 787 operators and they are receiving plaudits for it. However some objectivity is required as judging the 787 between economy on Jetstar compared to first class on BA will lead to vastly different impressions which is unfair on the aircraft itself.

Over a dozen airlines have ordered both types so putting purchase price aside there seems a valid case (operationally speaking) to operate both types side by side.

This is reminiscent of the 707 v DC-8 debate, both great excellent aircraft in their day.

Ultimately though, in my opinion, the A380 still remains the benchmark for the others to match.

TZB88

TZB88

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 39

So many airlines operating this aircraft in/out of Australia already. Big news for QF, but not exactly 'travel' news. The other airlines are probably happy QF is bringing this much attention to the plane - leisure travelers might start looking for it a bit more. I choose a 787 when crossing the Pacific every time. I believe it's the best option long haul.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Where will the QF B789s be maintained? LAX?

Nuttynorton

Nuttynorton

11 Jun 2016

Total posts 14

Just got back from flying Qatar's A350 and then 787. The a350 product craps hard all over the dreamliner. Just my 2 cents.Good on Qantas but being last to market with this aircraft.

Nova986

Nova986

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Aug 2015

Total posts 4

What happens with the long haul Syd-JoBurg and S American flights in aged 747s?

watson374

watson374

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

QF have six 744ERs that were 2002 builds. They'll stick around a while longer on JNB, SCL and SFO.

worldwanderer

worldwanderer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 68

Despite the detractors, I would have thought it a smart business move to replenish your fleet with not too shabby newish technology well proven planes at better than a decade old prices.

There is often much conjecture about "which plane is better" etc . To me, once you are on board, regardless of class, around 70-80% of the travel experience is the particular fit-out deployed and the "soft product" - crew and food etc.

The remaining 20-30% for the plane itself is related to noise (thank god there will be less 747s around, I love the quietness of the A380), vibration, humidity & airpressure.

If we eliminate classes, fitouts, carrier allegiances, and soft product - can anyone explain to me in simple terms the genuine differences between the A350 and B787-9 airframes that actually effect the passenger experience.

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 273

@worldwanderer both the B787 and A350 are next gen, composite airframes with all the bells and whistles that that entails. However the A350 has a wider cabin than the B787 which makes a big difference comfort wise if you flying down the back of the bus. I personally also find the A350 quieter, more open and less cramped feeling than the B787.

QF WP

QF WP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 54

Good to see the FB live feeds this morning as you came into SYD Hanger David. J seat looks interesting and the pantry items were right up our era. Looking forward to getting on the BNE/LAX flight in September 2018

crwilkins

crwilkins

Qantas

02 May 2016

Total posts 34

Have flown both 787 and A350 in J and Y and honestly don't believe any of the feedback about one being so much better than the other, in my view they are very similar. Obviously the fitout is different by airline but that is not Boeing or Airbus, I've flown 350 on CX, QR and CI and flown 787 on JL, AA and BA. I'm also told by a pilot friend that the economics of the 787 are far better than the A350, and QF are known for crunching the the economics really hard, so that combined with 2005 prices, why not?

Also, credit where credit is due....their marketing of the 787 has been brilliant and why is that wrong for any business in a competitive market? Unfortunately sometimes doesn't matter what QF does, the knockers come out, I just wonder how many of these knockers have actually flown globally on a number of other airlines, rather than just QF, VA or SQ

zoomzoom

zoomzoom

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

Why is everyone so excited about this? Jetstar has had them for years! And the 350LR is a better and more comfortable aircraft. And those of us that gave up on QF years ago have been enjoying newer more comfortable aircraft and better prices. Too little too late as usual.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

zoomzoom, correct: QF charges high fares (like JL) but does not deliver (at least with the B789s) the same level of comfort in economy class.

DownSouth

DownSouth

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 96

Congrats on the new arrival Qantas the livery on this plane looks great. However the sensationalism over this arrival is quite amazing. Other operators have been flying this aircraft to Australia tor years already.

So does the inside look revolutionary, not from those pics, 9 abreast slim line Y seats, tight pitch in premium and the same J seats as the 330.

The operating range to LHR is at its max, diversions into Southern Europe for a fuel stop is likely occasionally, eliminating the non stop premium paid.

Obzerva

Obzerva

11 Jan 2017

Total posts 6

This is seriously like one watching one of your friends throwing a massive celebration because they’re upgrading from a Motorola V3 to an iPhone six years after everyone already got a smart phone.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1373

While I agree with much of the sentiment above, that globally this isn't much of a significance, it is the first new type for Qantas in ten years, so is newsworthy.

But congrats to the QF media team for generating so much FREE publicity out of this event.

Being the longer range and larger aircraft the 789 is the right aircraft for QF, but with hindsight it should have arrived two years ago (but at the time of the GFC things were pretty dire so can understand why QF pushed it out).

I just hope QF aren't as conservative in timing over 777/350 and 737/320 decisions.

SeaVisionBurma

SeaVisionBurma

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 33

Were there photos of the aircraft? Couldn't see any

K-SYD

K-SYD

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Mar 2013

Total posts 8

Well, this starts to refute the "Qantas only cares about SYD, nothing for MEL BNE or PER" argument that is often seen in these and other forums.

Obzerva

Obzerva

11 Jan 2017

Total posts 6

Not really, if you asked any economy passenger who’s flown a 787 they’d probably rather something else, so Sydney is quarantined in Qantas’ current plans from the sardine experience.

787s really should have a different nickname depending on the cabin.

Business - Dreamliner

Economy - Nightmareliner

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

cbouri, when you complain about the 'scripting' on this website, are you referring to the font in the forum where we make comments, or the font in the stories about which we comment, or something else?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Cbourl, please keep your comments on topic (that topic being the Qantas Boeing 787) rather than rabid rants.

craigj77

craigj77

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 15

what a cushy gig working in PR for Qantas must be. They only need to sneeze in the direction of the media and they come running....

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

craigj77, it will be instructive to see if the 'traditional media' carries stories when B789 international flights are cancelled due to the aircraft requiring repairs.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

Traveller 14; every time an A380 sneezes it is front page news so I suspect no different to a 789. As they are new and the JQ ones function well they have a few years of clear air before the stories come by. The five years of JQ experience was a wise decision.

UpUpAndAway

UpUpAndAway

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 279

Great for Qantas and consumers, all I know is the prices are coming down with some amazing deals from other airlines. Hopefully Qantas will price match.

Bob Burgess

Bob Burgess

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Some real whingers here. The Boeing 787-9 is a great aircraft to fly in, and sure it would have been better if Qantas had them years ago and I'm sure Qantas would agree as well because of the cost-savings especially in fuel when fuel prices were so high. But bottom line is that the airline finally has its Dreamliners and they're going to open up some new routes as well as improve things all around.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on New for the Roo: Qantas gets its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner