Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the airline has no plans to buy any more Airbus A380s, including the eight superjumbos still listed on the order books at Airbus HQ.
The Flying Kangaroo currently runs twelve of the double-deck jets on flagship routes to Los Angeles, Dallas and London, with the final eight initially announced in 2006 as "firm orders" by then-CEO Geoff Dixon, with deliveries through to 2015.
Qantas has repeatedly hit pause on that schedule, however, with Joyce now confirming he sees no place for the remaining eight superjumbos in the network.
Speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific Summit 2016, Joyce said that Qantas is “continually pushing those aircraft (deliveries) out, so our intention is that we’re not taking those aircraft.”
“We have 12 aircraft and the 12 aircraft we have are fantastic aircraft and actually serve the missions we have,” Joyce continues.
“We believe there’s a network for 12: it’s very good and it works very well. We struggle with a network for the next eight, so that’s why we keep pushing them back.”
While the orders haven't been cancelled outright, Joyce says they'll sit on the books for at least the next 10 years but the airline won't make good on them, instead preferring to “keep on pushing them out”.
After the A380...
Qantas is now considering both the Boeing 777X and the ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR for its post-2020 fleet, especially as the airline begins to redraw its network map around non-stop flights of 16+ hours.
Earlier this year Joyce said he was "absolutely" looking at the A350-900ULR, which Singapore Airlines will begin flying in 2018 to relaunch non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York.
"You always look at all the options out there to make sure you're picking the one with the right economics" Joyce said, stacking the long-legged A350 against the Boeing 777-8X.
But Boeing is also in the frame, with Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans adding that "we're really interested in aircraft that can fly a very long way, and the 777-8X and 9X are very interesting aeroplanes for us in the long term."
Four engines vs two engines
Even so, some routes in the Qantas network – particularly Sydney-Johannesburg – require four-engined aircraft due to safety requirements, potentially demanding something more than the Boeing 787s Qantas currently has on order.
With its Boeing 747s set for retirement and no plans to firm-up the remaining A380s, Australian Business Traveller asked Joyce if its Southern Hemisphere routes remained part of Qantas’ long-term plan.
“Johannesburg and South America are particularly important markets for us,” Joyce imparts, “but we have some very, very young 747s which we took in the mid-2000s.”
“We recently put new product on them, and our intention is that those aircraft are going to be in the fleet for some time. There’s no immediate need for us to make a decision for an aircraft replacement in those markets.”
Joyce concludes by hinting that “as the technology on twin engines improves, there will be alternative aircraft” available instead to serve those destinations in the future.
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