Sydney, Australia - Australian flag carrier Qantas is preparing to replace its remaining Boeing 747-400s with the Boeing's new generation 787-9s. The airline will also make its decision for the aircraft type that will be used on the non-stop Sydney - London route.
Qantas currently has eight Boeing 787-9 in its fleet. The airline has six more jets of the same type on order with the American aircraft manufacturer, which will be delivered by the end of 2020 and replace the remaining seven Boeing 747-400 of the Australian carrier.
Qantas currently operates its Boeing 747-400s on routes from Sydney to Honolulu, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Santiago, and Tokyo.
In addition to Boeing's jumbo jets, Qantas also has 12 Airbus A380-800 in its fleet, but the airline will continue to operate its refurbished superjumbos by 2030.
"We are reconfiguring the A380s as we speak. It will take a year to reconfigure all twelve of them. We are committed to operating the aircraft for another up to ten years," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said last week at the IATA's annual meeting in Seoul.
Qantas' A380s are 9.8 years old on average and are deployed on routes from Sydney to Dallas, London Heathrow (via Singapore Changi), and Los Angeles, as well as from Melbourne Tullamarine to Los Angeles and Singapore.
The wide-body fleet of the airline also includes eighteen older generation Airbus A330-200 and ten A330-300.
Another important milestone in the fleet expansion of the Australian company is the "Project Sunrise".
"Project Sunrise" is an ambitious project which aims to link Sydney to London with non-stop flights. However, in order to accomplish this, Qantas will need a new ultra-long-range aircraft.
While it is currently possible to fly non-stop between the West Coast of Australia and London, it is not possible to fly non-stop between Sydney and London. The planes need stops to refuel in Singapore or Bangkok.
In 2018, Qantas started negotiations with Airbus and Boeing about the technical capabilities of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X to see if it can be achieved with those planes.
It was concluded that a non-stop route between Sydney and New York with full payload is possible with both A350 and 777X, but further improvements required for the Sydney-London route.
Qantas has now submitted an RFP (Request for Proposal) to both Airbus and Boeing about a potential contract including price, performance features, and details of the delivery streams, among other things.
The Australian carrier is expected to announce its aircraft choice for "Project Sunrise" by the end of 2022 or no later than early 2023.