Qantas paves the way for Boeing 787 flights to Johannesburg, Santiago

By Chris Chamberlin, June 11 2019
Qantas paves the way for Boeing 787 flights to Johannesburg, Santiago

With plans to retire its last Boeing 747 aircraft by the end of 2020, Qantas is scoping out the potential replacement for its jumbos on transoceanic flights from Sydney to Santiago and Johannesburg.

Traditionally requiring a larger four-engined aircraft like the Boeing 747, Qantas is now in a position to consider smaller jets like the Boeing 787, or its upcoming Project Sunrise planes, to take over these 12-14 hour flights.

Speaking with Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce confirms that the “ETOPS requirements that these aircraft are certified to will allow us to do both routes.”

ETOPS refers to the restrictions placed on twin-engined aircraft by aviation regulators, which limit how far commercial flights can venture from a safe landing point on the ground: a cap that's particularly relevant on long over-water flights, and which varies from one aircraft type to the next.

That said, Qantas' Boeing 787s come with 128 fewer seats on board compared to the airline's Boeing 747s, which Joyce views as an opportunity to increase the regularity of its Southern Hemisphere flights.

“It’s a smaller aircraft, the Boeing 787, so it allows you to build up the frequency on those routes. At the moment, we don’t have daily flights all the time on these routes… so for us, South Africa and South America isn’t going to be a problem.”

South Africa and South America are both potential destinations for the globe-striding Project Sunrise jets, although they haven't received the fanfare of promised non-stop flights to London or New York.

Qantas expects to place a multibillion-dollar order for its Project Sunrise fleet before the year is out, with Airbus and Boeing each due to submit a "best and final offer" for ultra-long range versions of their respective A350 and 777X jets.

The Project Sunrise aircraft will feature four cabins with all-new first class, business class, premium economy and economy seating plus a space dedicated to "exercise, health and wellbeing", and take wing in 2022-2023.

Qantas will also take delivery of six new Boeing 787 jets from late this year through to the end of 2020, boosting the size of the Dreamliner fleet to 14 and enabling retirement of the Boeing 747s, although some jumbo jet routes such as Sydney-Tokyo may be taken over by an Airbus A380.

Chris Chamberlin attended the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.

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.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1368

They may have to keep the 747s right up to the end of 2020 to enable A380 refurbishment. At the rate they are going with the first one (2+ months) and another before Xmas, then after the summer peak they will need to do two A380s at the same time to get the last 10 done by the end of the year.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 598

They should retire their last 747 on the exact day of the 50th anniversary from when they received their very first 747. That would make it up to mid 2021

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 125

Does CASA yet allow Australian airlines to fly these ETOPS routes without significant extra miles? Sure the aircraft is certified to do these routes but I thought CASA was still to increase ETOPS minutes for Australian airlines?

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 370

I am a bit confused by this article. My understanding is that CASA hasn't certified any planes beyond ETOPS 180. This article doesn't provide any information to indicate that is changing.

Yes the 787 can fly the routes. But until CASA allows ETOPS beyond 180, it doesn't matter.

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 58

CASA updated the guidelines and standards in line with the changes from ETOPS to EDTO. Do a quick search for CASA CAAP 82-1(1) and it has all the new updates as of 2015.

In line with the above, and the article, QF will have no trouble with these routes using twins.


13 Jun 2015

Total posts 143

The Sydney-Johannesburg flights should have a stopover at Perth due to ETOPS Restrictions.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 119

They should have a stop over full stop. It makes sense for Perth to be Qantas' hub for Africa, Sydney for South America.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 31

That would be terrible- sorry @maabbot - it's a long way and adding more time to this trip is frustrating- and so glad the new planes will take this much needed upgrade! The Skybed is awful and I go with Emirates QF to South Africa adding almost double travel time - just to avoid this awful seat experience! The hard product on Qantas 747 business class is terrible - I only did this route on the old 747 which had the old first class for platinum and above members on lower deck.

It's such a great move to use the new seats on this leg and making it direct from Sydney is absolutely wonderful- as a regular flyer to see family I can return back to qantas for this route

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 58

No they shouldn’t at all. That is completely incorrect. With EDTO180 they could fly the route non-stop but it would be suboptimal, with EDTO330 they can fly it as they do today with the 747 (which also operates under the same rules... the number of engines is irrelevant these days).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 458

Perth-Johannesburg could be used to provide the extra seats over a daily 787 out of SYD. Perhaps an A330 as was previously consided. QF and Perth would have to settle the fees dispute and then I expect the terminal issue would go away quietly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 489

Can't see the terminal/fees dispute being settled anytime soon without State and Federal Government intervention

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 332

Agreed.. Perth Airport seems to be incredulously stubborn and pig headed about this fees and terminal issues with Qantas.. Their lost (and Perth’s for that matter)..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2014

Total posts 52

Exactly! PER should be rolling out the red carpet for QF because once Project Sunrise arrives, we'll have no reason to visit PER. This was their big opportunity to make themselves a major transit hub for QF flights onto multiple European destinations.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 390

I am neutral on this as an Eastern Stater but surely when one business (Qantas) doesn't pay its bills to another (Perth Airport) wouldn't the latter usually want to restrict services, not supply it or take other measures such as legal action?

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1263

If the 787s are used, to make up capacity, perhaps this is an opportunity to look at flights to Cape Town? Lima is another LATAM hub and monopoly potential QF route.

16 Jun 2017

Total posts 5

QF flying the non-stop Sydney to Cape Town route with it's new Project Sunrise fleet would make up for any capacity losses to Africa with the retirement of the B747s. Along with daily departures on Sydney to Jo-berg & the hopeful launch of Perth to Jo-Berg, there's plenty of room to increase capacity.

A good QF line up to Africa would be:
- Daily SYD - JNB flights on B787
- 2-4 weekly SYD - CPT flights on B777X or A350
- 3-5 weekly PER to JNB flights on A330 or B787


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 74

Nice thought but past actions are the best predictors of future behav

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 4

Do QF have mody6th freedom rights in South Africa ? Obviously asking if,say,SYD-CPT-JNB is an option?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 31

Absolutely love this idea @alexlips99

JNB airport is horrendous! As is Qantas 747 business class

Cape Town is the hub of tourism in South Africa- having flown this route 1-3 times a year for 10 years - almost all passengers connect in JNB to get to Cape Town

I use QF coded Emirates flights from Melb to get to Cape Town and Durban as their First & business class is cheaper and far superior in quality! The time though is a major issue but not bad on a better plane and quality hard product

Considering the SA migrations in NZ and AUZ Qantas could do AKL- Syd - CPT / JNB in new modern upgraded aircrafts!

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 131

My guess: daily SYD-JNB 789, reduced capacity = great yield, forget SYD-CPT.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Direct to Cape Town would be great. Great city to visit.

23 Aug 2011

Total posts 61

Daily 787 Syd/Jnb; reduced capacity and higher fares. Rumours strong that SAA will be pulling out of Per/Jnb route due to substantial losses and their crippling financial position.
SQ will take up the flak and add capacity Sin/SA..

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 37

With a bit of luck it could lead to the late afternoon SIN-JNB flight becoming daily. The 1am ish departure flight makes for a looooong travel day not to mention the evening arrival rather than early AM.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 119

How is that a good thing for PERTH travelers? You want a route to fall over so PERTH travelers hub through Singapore to J’burg so Singapore gets increased capacity?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2017

Total posts 28

Some foreign airlines are operating 787 aircraft already on non stop flights to South America, and I assume they have regulatory approvals to do this. Having said that, I still believe it is wise to err on the side of caution, and continue with quad jets on these transoceanic flights of SYD-SCL, and SYD-JNB. I know about ETOPS and how aircraft are rated to meet these requirements, but when it comes to the crunch, having 4 engines is extra insurance when faced with a critical emergency, in a very remote region where landing may still be hours away.

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 31

I still see great potential for 747s on domestic routes and leisure destinations. 747s are still flying high demand routes such as from Beijing to Shanghai/Guangzhou. Instead of retiring them, give them a face lift and use them for MEL/SYD/BNE/PER.

16 Jun 2017

Total posts 5

The enormous amount of fuel burnt getting a guzzling-747 off the ground is enormous & wouldn't stack up for a 1-2 hour flight. 747 access at domestic terminals is a problem, as is crew scheduling - 747 pilots are their most senior and only fly a handful of long-haul flights each month. They would have to train young (cheaper) pilots willing to work the long hours of domestic shuttling. Then there's the high maintenance costs. Unfortunately, I think these Queens are headed to the desert (or a cargo airline).

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 4

If Air Mauritius - who fly to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, East Africa, Seychelles & Madagascar got their act in order and did daily flights from Perth instead of a few times a week we could get easily to all these places instead of relying on financially stricken SAA, let alone Qantas & their eastern state centric mentality

30 Sep 2011

Total posts 45

Perth is a tiny population base compared to Sydney or Melbourne so locals suck up to it. Yes ETOPS rules changed but the flight time is still longer than that of a four engine plan. Remember Virgin pulled out of JoBurgh because the four engined 747 could take a shorter route and safe almost 3 hours. Yes the two engined 787 can fly the new ETPOS route so could a Virgin 777 but four engines would still be about 90 minutes quicker, same applies to South America. QANTAS has said for years it wants Cape Town, simple 70%+ of their passengers have tickets to Cape Town. Cape Town has more international airlines than JoBurgh and sometime in the next two years will overtake JoBurgh for international passengers.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 119

Hey Dunc - Perth has a major South African expat community and 50% the population of Sydney. Australia is a lot more than Sydney or Melbourne, both of which are tiny cities on a global sense based on your definition...

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 390

Sydney and Melbourne have become medium sized cities (population wise.) They aren't a Jakarta or Manila by any stretch.

Agree that Perth is no longer a 'small' city: it's becoming a 'small to medium' one, and despite problems with economic growth in the last few years, one can see it growing in the future, provided its high taxing State government doesn't further up the tax take, especially from miners.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 66

Perth may have a small population, but it's perfect as a hub for SA, WA, NT, QLD, VIC residents who don't wish to backtrack across the other side of the country to get flights from Sydney and then pass over their home again on the flight to their destination.

Sydney based flights are good for east coast residents but useless to the rest of the country.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 152

I never fly twin engined aircraft over long expanses of water, if at all possible. I like the extra "insurance".

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 98

I cannot understand the non sense over the use of the current lounge by Qantas in Perth. Having flown QF 09 and QF 10 the lounge is a fabulous resource albeit under utilised. It’s further use on a potential Perth/ Joberg would benefit the WA / Perth communities. Surely it is understood how many ex Springboks live in WA. A Melbourne -Perth- Capetown route, Alan....pencil me in! The proposition that these flights land in one terminal and depart from another as the apparent basis of the dispute simply replicates the Sydney idiocy and continues to appear to make the Perth Airport folk a laughing stock for spitting the dummy. Similarly, a Melbourne to Santiago and or Lima; bring it on for my underused stash of FFPs.


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1368

Ottov the difference between Perth and Sydney is not only the bus for passengers but also the need to tow the connecting plane across the field. That does not happen in Sydney as it is not a stopover port. That is the silliness at the basis of the dispute.

02 Mar 2018

Total posts 6

Why not use the a380 SYD-JNB instead of Syd-Tokyo . I’d feel much safer with four engines flying in that remote part of the world near Antarctica & with the black spot on that route

15 Feb 2018

Total posts 46

Perth Airport have successfully seen to Perth missing out on direct flights from Perth to JNB, and CDG. Added to the list are potential locations such as FRA. One has to ask, are they serving the Perth and wider Western Australian community?

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 33

im flying sydney to santiago business class on the 747 tomorrow, are the seats likely to be old and outdated?

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 390

Yes, unfortunately the B744s while 'Queen of the Skies' are outdated.

27 Feb 2013

Total posts 12

I would like to see Qantas fly to Johannesburg from Melbourne. Getting an early flight to Sydney and having to put up with its terrible international transfer at rush hour just to fly over Melbourne around midday and then on the way back flying over Melbourne just to suffer through Sydney Airport again and another three hours to get back to Melbourne is the worst part of that trip!!

Flying QF63 out of Melbourne would also make the flight an hour shorter each way for passengers from Melbourne and not much longer for passengers from Sydney.

27 Feb 2013

Total posts 12

PS: I would also prefer the A380 over the 787 for this route, but economics will dictate.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

15 Jun 2019

Total posts 3

Don’t think the 787 can do the JoBurg flights from Sydney direct and return. A380 will replace the 747. Just my guess.

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