Qantas will today announce an order for six more Boeing 787-9 jets, bringing the total red-tailed Dreamliner fleet to 14 in number.
The first of these additional 787-9s is due to arrive in late 2019, with a rapid delivery of all six by mid-to-late 2020 – just in time for the airline's 100th anniversary in 2020.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce tips that with the new Dreamliners "we’ll be looking at destinations in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe."
Paris and Germany have already been pencilled in as likely European destinations.
The six new Boeing 787-9s will sport the same seating and configuration as the first eight.
Dreamliners in, jumbos out
These additional Dreamliners will allow Qantas to retire its remaining ten Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets by the end of 2020.
Qantas currently flies the ageing and fuel-thirsty jumbo jets to the USA (and seasonally to Vancouver), Asia, South America and South Africa, with some of those routes to be taken over by the Boeing 787 and others handed across to Airbus A330s.
"This really is the end of one era and the start of another," Joyce remarked.
"The jumbo has been the backbone of Qantas International for more than 40 years and we’ve flown almost every type that Boeing built. It’s fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020."
“By the end of 2020 we’ll have farewelled the 747, finished upgrading the cabins of our A380s, and welcomed our fourteenth 787."
The airline has not advised where the new Dreamliners will be based; the first order of eight jets was split four-each between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Is this the sweet spot for Qantas' Boeing 787 fleet?
Qantas' second tranche of Boeing 787s is drawn from a total 'orders and options' book of some 45 Dreamliners, although the airline is not expected to take up all of those due to changes in where it will use the Boeing 787s.
The size of the initial order, which stretches back to 2005, reflected Qantas’ intention to have the Boeing 787 replace the Airbus A330 on domestic routes.
However, Joyce has previously told Australian Business Traveller that he no longer plans to put the Boeing 787 onto domestic routes.
"Our thinking has evolved... while the 787 as with the A330 are pretty powerful they are over-spec'd" for domestic flights, "so the economics do not work."
Instead, Qantas will revamp its domestic fleet from the mid-2020s with either the advanced Boeing 737 MAX or the Airbus A320neo and the yet-to-be-built mid-sized Boeing 797, which would also pick up some flights into south-east Asia.