With the future of its domestic fleet now set, and seeing a clear trajectory out of the pandemic era, Qantas is turning its attention to those ageing mid-range Airbus A330s.
“That aircraft is heading to the end of its useful life,” Qantas Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson says, adding that “we will be looking at the market in the coming 12 months” for a replacement.
“We will run a competition as we have done for the narrow-body fleet in the coming 12 to 18 months.”
That competition is expected to see Airbus put forward its next-gen A330neo aircraft, while Boeing will steer Qantas towards the 787 Dreamliner.
In Airbus’ favour is the familiarity of Qantas and its crew with the A330.
However, Qantas is understood to still hold a significant number of options on the Boeing 787 placed back in the early days of the Dreamliner’s development, which could see the jets available at an attractively low price.
The A330 is arguably the most flexible jet in the Qantas fleet, taking on transcontinental flights between Australia’s east and west coasts, as well as selected flights to New Zealand and across Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila and most recently India.
The A330s were the launchpad for the Business Suite at the end of 2014 – a modern business class seat that’s since appeared on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 – with the domestic jets also fitted with fast and free WiFi.