Qantas has brought forward the delivery of its second tranche of Boeing 787s, with all four of the Dreamliners now taking wing in the second half of 2018 to allow the launch of a second non-stop route into Europe – with Paris tipped as the front-runner.
The original timetable saw the first four red-tailed Boeing 787s flying in from late 2017 to mid-2018, with four more over the next 12 months through to mid-2019.
Qantas' revised schedule will now see the eight-strong fledging Boeing 787 fleet all in place before the end of 2018.
Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans outlined the airline's tighter timetable during the annual Qantas Investor Day 2017 held last Friday, May 5.
"We will have four aircraft by March 2018, when Perth-London starts... and then a little gap, and the remaining four aircraft come in between July and November 2018," Evans said.
"We've actually bought the last one forward by two or three months so we can get the aircraft in as fast as possible."
Evans reiterated that two Boeing 747s would be retired once the first four Dreamliners were in place, with three more jumbo jets by the end of 2018, "so five old 747s will exit the fleet."
Dreamliner delivery schedule
A tentative schedule sighted by Australian Business Traveller indicates Qantas will pick up the keys to its debutante Dreamliner on October 12, 2017.
Two more red-tailed Dreamliners will follow at either end of December 2017 and another on February 22, 2018.
Those four will all be used to fly a unique London-Perth-Melbourne-Los Angeles sweep designed to maximise the number of hours of flying time which Qantas wrings from the fuel-efficient Boeing 787.
"It's a very efficient pattern which is unreplicable by our competitors, because the hub carriers have to fly through their hubs," Evans explains. "So it's unique competitive advantage for us to build from this new Perth hub."
From Paris, France to Paris, Texas?
The second four Boeing 787s would replicate this pattern, with Paris tipped as the European destination and a possible eastbound leg from Brisbane to Dallas or Los Angeles – resulting in a Paris-Perth-Brisbane-USA corridor for the Dreamliners.
The Paris service would build upon Perth's new role as an Aussie hub for direct flights to Europe.
Rome, Berlin and Frankfurt have also been cited by Qantas for future non-stop services – dependent on Qantas calling in more of its options and purchase rights for as many as 45 additional Dreamliners.
"I'd like to order all of them if I can make a good return out of them," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce previously told Australian Business Traveller.
"We have to demonstrate that we can make money out of the eight we have – but once we’ve done that, we’ll be comfortable in ordering more."
Boosting the Boeing 787 fleet
Qantas has the option to buy 15 more Dreamliners with guaranteed delivery slots through to 2020, while an additional 30 Boeing 787s are pencilled in as 'purchase rights' – without a fixed delivery timeframe – to 2025.
The airline has locked in a very low purchase price for the Boeing 787s stemming from its initial 2005 order rather than the current $US265 million (A$345m) list price – although airlines rarely ever pay the sticker prices, and discounts can be as deep as 40%.
Qantas' long-term plan is for the Boeing 787 to replace not only the ageing and fuel-thirsty Boeing 747 jumbo jets but also its international and domestic Airbus A330 fleet.
This would see the Dreamliners flying Australia's east-west transcontinental routes in addition to the bulk of international services but for the flagship Airbus A380s and either the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350, both of which Qantas is eyeing for the mid-2020s.