The Qantas Group has announced several major fleet decisions that will reshape its international and domestic networks over the next decade and beyond.
These decisions will also improve journeys for millions of people every year, and create over 1,000 jobs as well as many career progression opportunities at the national carrier.
Domestically, Qantas will start the renewal of its narrow body jets as part of ‘Project Winton’ with firm orders for twenty Airbus A321XLRs and twenty A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired.
The first of these aircraft will start to arrive in late 2023, with the order including purchase right options for another 94 aircraft for delivery through to at least 2034.
Internationally, twelve Airbus A350-1000s will be ordered to operate non-stop ‘Project Sunrise’ flights from Australia to other cities including New York and London.
These aircraft will feature market-leading passenger comfort in each travel class with services scheduled to start by the end of calendar 2025 from Sydney.
All of these next generation aircraft – through their lower emissions, longer range, less noise and better economics – will improve how people travel around Australia and overseas.
Qantas customers can expect more direct routes and therefore less total travel time. They can expect higher levels of cabin comfort. And, particularly on domestic and regional routes, they can expect more choice of flights at different times of day due to different size aircraft for peak and off-peak times.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:
New types of aircraft make new things possible. That’s what makes today’s announcement so significant for the national carrier and for a country like Australia where air travel is crucial.
Throughout our history, the aircraft we’ve flown have defined the era we’re in.
The 707 introduced the jet age, the 747 democratised travel and the A380 brought a completely new level of comfort.
The A350 and Project Sunrise will make any city just one flight away from Australia. It’s the last frontier and the final fix for the tyranny of distance. As you’d expect, the cabin is being specially designed for maximum comfort in all classes for long-haul flying.
The A320s and A220s will become the backbone of our domestic fleet for the next 20 years, helping to keep this country moving. Their range and economics will make new direct routes possible, including serving regional cities better.
These newer aircraft and engines will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent if running on fossil fuels, and significantly better when run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This order brings us closer to our commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Project Sunrise will be carbon neutral from day one.
We have come through the other side of the pandemic a structurally different company. Our domestic market share is higher and the demand for direct international flights is even stronger than it was before COVID. The business case for Project Sunrise has an internal rate of return in the mid-teens.
The Board’s decision to approve what is the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the Qantas Group. Our strategy for these aircraft will see us generate significant benefits for those who make it possible – our people, our customers and our shareholders.
The phasing of this order means it can be funded within our debt range and through earnings, while still leaving room for shareholder returns in line with our financial framework.”