Qantas (QF), a long hold out on the twin engine Boeing concept being one of the few major airlines who didn’t opt for the 777, finally gave in and ordered the 787 – a bit to the surprise of some.
It made sense though – the 787-9’s economics for long haul travel is fantastic and with Australia being far from…well anywhere it seem like a good match for the oneworld airline. Their current long haul fleet consists mostly of Airbus A380s which while they have worked very well for them, they might be too big and have too many seats to profitably open new routes or continue on existing flights. QF also still has the 747 which have served as the backbone for QF’s international fleet for decades – but they are ageing and are reaching replacement age. They are also nowhere near as efficient as the new 787s that Boeing are producing.
The new 787s are due in next year for the airline and Qantas is as usual keeping their cards close to their chest on what the product will look like on the new fleet and what routes they’ll serve. But we’ve heard some whispers that QF will be shedding light on these details on October 27 – as usual, the airline isn’t saying anything official about this announcement, but we have it on good authority that it will happen on this date.
We were also told that Qantas will be initially expected to operate the aircraft on domestic routes first for crew to familiarize themselves on the plane after receiving training both in Seattle (Boeing’s home) and Sydney (QF’s technical base). So expect to see them flying between Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane and possibly even out west to Perth. After that, they will replace existing 747 routes with the two oldest frames being retired upon the 787’s introduction.
After more 787s are delivered, Perth-London will be the new route to be operated, which will become undoubtedly the world’s longest flight and mark the first time Australia has been directly connected with Europe. It will be a big deal and possible game changer on the lucrative flying between the two continents especially given the United Kingdom’s close ties with Australia.
In terms of other new flights, that’s yet to be seen. Thus far the airline has only said that the 787 will be mostly replacing current aircraft on current routes so don’t expect too many additions – but given that they aren’t retiring they 747s for some time yet, they have to go somewhere – and those will be new routes. So expect some of that in the near future.
Another thing to expect is the announcement of a new Business Class and Economy product – with the 787 coming in QF is expected to introduce a new Biz product from the current older generation beds they offer. They already have introduced a new suite like product on their newer A330 fleet for domestic trans-con flights from Perth to the major eastern cities (mostly to compete with Virgin Australia, mind). But given that the 787 will be operating ultra-long hauls, QF will want to update their product to stay competitive and this will also most likely spread across to their A380 and B747 fleet. Keep your eyes peeled on this one. We expect the update to be comprehensive and top of the line.
The 787 will be a major upgrade on routes that the 747 currently flies such as Dallas and San Francisco. Qantas already has a solid soft product with some of the best crews out there and a Neil Perry inspired menu but the current version of what the airline calls their ‘Sky Bed’ isn’t up to par, as there is no direct aisle access for window passengers and some of the older 747s even still have the previous generation of the seat that isn’t fully flat.
All in all, this news announcement we feel will bring good news to oneworld elites and frequent fliers.