While Qantas remains bullish on the prospects of the Boeing 787, it won't be rushing to order more until the first red-tailed Dreamliners have taken wing – and proved they can turn a clear profit for the airline.
That could mean a second tranche of the next-gen jets won't be inked until at least mid-2018, by which time Qantas will have its first four Boeing 787s darting around the globe, with four more joining them over the following 12 months.
But those subsequent orders could big ones, with as many as 45 Dreamliners available should Qantas choose.
"The 45 options and purchase rights are phenomenal for us, and this aircraft we believe is a game changer (so) we absolutely would like more of them" Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told Australian Business Traveller following the airline's reveal of a record $1.53 billion in pretax profit.
"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."
"I'd like to order all of them if I can make a good return out of them," Joyce later expanded.
Boosting the Boeing 787 fleet
Qantas has the option to buy 15 more Dreamliners with a staggered delivery schedule through to 2020, while an additional 30 Boeing 787s are pencilled in as 'purchase rights' – without 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%.
"As always with fleet, flexibility is the keyword" a Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller with regard to future Boeing 787 purchases.
"We have a very good relationship with various manufactures and that has enabled us to adjust our orders as required. In Boeing's case, our relationship stretches back more than 250 aircraft across 60 years.”
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 A380 and either the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350, both of which Qantas is eyeing for the mid-2020s.
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