Qantas to retire and replace its Airbus A330s

Airbus and Boeing will both bid to replace the ageing mid-sized jets.

By David Flynn, August 25 2022
Qantas to retire and replace its Airbus A330s

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.

Later this year the A330 will spread its wings to Johannesburg and Seoul.

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.

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 41

Really hope QF will offer more connectivity into Asia from non-Sydney ports and also offer PEY on these routes. The decision not to fit lie flat J seats on the first 20 321XLRs suggests these won't be used to add much in  the way of new point to point connections.  Sadly QF seems content to cede a lot of the business travel market into Asia to offshore carriers...


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1435

I thought the 787-10 would have it in the bag with the large number of purchase orders with Boeing, but with the large airbus orders maybe the A339 may be able to match it.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 31

Having an old A330-200 running from BNE to LAX and back is disgraceful. How the crew 'resting' on partly partioned off economy seats at the back of the cabin got past the flight attendant union is beyond me. As well, the planes are run down and badly need some love (or as sounds like is going to be the case, be replaced)

10 Jun 2015

Total posts 11

The BNE-LAX-BNE 330 flights are crewed by Jetconnect kiwis as Aussies won’t crew those 330 flights above 14 hrs purely cos of those unacceptable economy middles seats! 

Have you noticed that the DEL flights now no longer transit in ADL as these 330 flights are also crewed by the kiwis and the 14 hr plus duty northbound doesn’t affect them! 

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 105

Having flown the A 330 on a new business seat to NZ and a similar domestic Perth to Melbourne flight, the metal compares favourably with the B787 having experienced the latter on the Melb to LHR and return and several US return trips. Ultimately it is the quality of the seat that will make the difference, doesn't?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 481

They could also stop fluffing around and just get in the queue for the Dreamliners...

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 16

Picking the A330Neo makes sense with 1 to 1 size compare.

The A350-900 is most probably too big to replace A330.

787-8 and 787-9 most probably a good size match. Plus would remove a type for training.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 225

For a like to like comparison it will be between the A330neo and B787-9.

If QF wants a long range but higher capacity jet then the A350-900 can fit that bill. 787-10 is also an option but it won't have the range. 

In the end this is the most competitive tender with no immediate clear winner. It's obviously going to come down to costs - train a whole new sleuth of fresh pilots for the 787 or minimal training for existing A330 pilots to the new A339/A350? 

Time will tell.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 45

They already have A330s, just locked in A321s, A350s, and I believe it’s something like 5 weeks of training to get an A320 pilot upskilled to the A330/350 type rating. Sticking with the Airbus seems to make a lot of sense to me.

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 157

Simple - Given the current QF fleet, 787's are the obvious replacement for the A330's using economies of scale and budgeting targets. Thus, crews, passengers and cargo loads are then simply interchangeable across the fleet when aircraft changes are required. Lets keep it simple people!

22 May 2011

Total posts 86

I wouldn’t knock 787 out of the race already with all of this Airbus talk.  Remember both qantas and Jetstar have 787s in their fleet, there’s an argument for putting too many eggs in the airbus basket, and the A330neo itself is basically a A330 with some modifications rather than an all new design and composite material 787

Wouldn't QF be taking the JQ 787's and leaving the shiny new planes to the low cost arm? That's exactly what QF did when they took on all the old A332's. Leave the higher cost planes to the legacy carrier.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 452

The latest variant of a330 would be more than ideal for your Bali,Jakarta,Bangkok,Singapore,Osaka and Honolulu amongst others services that does not need anything bigger.Peak time services for say Noumea or Trans Tasman could go down this path and most domestic services that need more capacity than a 737 can offer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 32

This is quite a fascinating conundrum for many airlines at the moment because what is ideally wanted here is the promised Boeing "middle of the market" airplane that never materialised. An airplane that sits in size between an A330/787 and an A321, just like the 767 used to be. Without that choice anymore, Qantas is left with ordering more 787's that really are a bit "too capable" for the desired routes in this instance but they will admittedly get them for a very low initial price still I think (?) , or perhaps the A330-900neo if Airbus do a sweet deal, and have less pilot training costs,  but also the Airbus A330-800neo which I think would fit the bill perfectly with it's reduced seating capacity, greater range and freight capacity, which isn't selling well at the moment so Qantas could get them for a steal.

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