Jetstar eyes domestic Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights

Domestic travellers could soon have even more choice in business class, with Jetstar eyeing domestic Boeing 787 flights.

By Chris Chamberlin, March 10 2021
Jetstar eyes domestic Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights

With Qantas expecting Australia’s international borders to reopen by October, Jetstar is mapping out its return to overseas and twin-aisle flying – a plan that could see the airline’s Boeing 787s taking off on domestic routes too.

Albeit temporary, the move would find a fourth competitor in the domestic business class space, joining its parent airline Qantas, as well as rival Virgin Australia and new entrant Regional Express.

“We could look at getting some Boeing 787s flying domestically earlier” than when international borders reopen, Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said at today’s CAPA Live summit, “particularly if domestic borders stay open.”

“If we do see (domestic) borders remaining open through the middle of the year, it’d be great to have a couple of 787s up domestically … especially if we need some more domestic lift around the peak periods.”

Jetstar's Boeing 787 business class is more like domestic business class, or international premium economy.
Jetstar's Boeing 787 business class is more like domestic business class, or international premium economy.

Prior to COVID-19, Jetstar’s Dreamliners were only used on international routes, plus a small number of attached domestic connections.

Tickets could be purchased on those domestic-only hops – including in business class – but the flights were impractical for most business travellers given the need to fly through the international terminals: adding significant time for processing, and stricter security screening requirements.

“They’re a great product,” Evans says of Jetstar’s Boeing 787s, “but to get some of our pilots and cabin crew associated with those aircraft flying again, it’d be great.”

Read: Flying business class on Jetstar's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Travel bubbles for New Zealand, Taiwan

With Australia approaching one year since its international borders were closed, Jetstar plans to jump back into the air at the first opportunity.

When asked which overseas routes would be priorities for the airline, Evans ambitiously shared that Jetstar will fly “anywhere and everywhere that Australians want to travel to.”

That’s expected to start with New Zealand, although any hopes of a trans-Tasman travel bubble by the end of March are well and truly popped.

“We are assuming that New Zealand opens at the beginning of July, so let’s hope we can get that together with the Kiwis, and get a New Zealand bubble open.”

“Obviously, Bali is a priority for us – it’s our biggest international market – I think that’s where a lot of Australians want to go to … but we may also need to be flexible from a destination perspective, depending on what is open and when, if it happens in a piecemeal way.”

If Australia eventually maps out travel bubbles with destinations not normally served by Jetstar, the Australian airline would strongly consider launching flights, particularly while fewer alternatives exist.

“Taiwan is a potential country that could open as a bubble, because they’ve had very low rates of infection. So, if Taiwan opens as a bubble, would we think of flying there? Yes, we absolutely would.”

Jetstar's Boeing 787s have the range to fly non-stop from Australia to Taiwan.
Jetstar's Boeing 787s have the range to fly non-stop from Australia to Taiwan.

“I expect what will happen, is that if only Taiwan and New Zealand – and I’ll make one up, Singapore – are open, Australians will probably want to go to Taiwan, and if there’s demand there, we’ll have a look at flying there,” Evans says.

Jetstar’s Airbus A321neos nudged to 2022-23

The newest addition to the Jetstar fleet – the Airbus A321neo – was first expected to arrive in 2020, allowing Jetstar to fly further using smaller planes: especially so the longer-range A321XLR, being suited to both domestic and international flights.

Back in May 2020, the Qantas Group shared that delivery of these jets wouldn’t take place in the “short term”. Evans now confirms “they won’t be coming this year,” either.

“It’s out into the 2022-23 timeframe. Clearly, we’re really looking forward to getting them, they do a lot for us… we can fly (A321neos) to Bali and can free up 787s,” or can fly the A321XLR “into Japan from northern Australia as well.”

“They can be flexed between international and domestic, and that is very valuable.”

Jetstar had originally considered business class for its next-gen jets, but ultimately decided on an all-economy layout, making room for 232 passengers.

That leaves the Boeing 787s as Jetstar’s flagship plane with business class, commonly seen flying to places like Honolulu, Singapore and Japan prior to COVID-19.

Also read: Jetstar's Boeing 787s fly into extended storage at Alice Springs

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 211

Very smart move, adds a lot of capacity as needed and could also help the Qantas mothership in its battle against Rex. I've flown in Jetstar's Boeing 787 business class and agree it's more like premium economy but for SYD-MEL or even more likely east-west routes like MEL-PER and SYD-PER it's more than enough and as long as the price is right, just a shame Jetstar's use of SYD T2 and MEL T4 makes it impractical to use the Qantas lounges if you're eligible as a QFF member.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2017

Total posts 51

I have a feeling that a Dreamliner would need the bigger parking slots available in T3 at Syd, not sure what the go is in Mel.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 123

They could pull up to one of the gates VA used for the 330's

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 83

Flew on JQ “business class” non stop from Phuket to Melbourne when we were free and it was actually very comfortable. 

Would certainly book for the right price. These jets could be put to good use Mel/Syd to Cairns, Perth and Gold coast during school holidays etc 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 587

No reason they couldn’t bus it to the plane from the gate like a lot of European airports and that gate could be close to the Qantas lounge specially in Sydney?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1254

A good way to pressure/squeeze the competition from both ends of price points but also with sheer capacity with ten or more Jetstar A320s coming from both Japan and Singapore.


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