Australian carrier Qantas is renewing its domestic fleet for a total spending of more than $9bn.
The airline has entered the final stages of a tender process with aircraft and engine manufacturers that will see more than 100 new aircraft become operational by 2034, according to a Bloomberg report.
The renewal will reportedly mainly affect Boeing 737s, 800s and 717s, currently carrying out most of Qantas’s domestic operations.
As deliveries are set to start from the end of 2023, the Australian airline is considering the purchase of Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A32neo aircraft, as well as Embraer E-Jet E2 and Airbus 220. The group will make its final decision by the end of this year, with firm orders starting from mid-2022.
“We’re calling this Project Winton, after the birthplace of Qantas in outback Queensland, because this is a foundational decision for the future of our domestic operations,” said Qantas Group’s chief executive Alan Joyce. “All of the next-generation aircraft we’re considering have the potential to drive big improvements in trip cost and overall efficiency, and they’re great platforms for delivering a better premium service to our customers.”
The chief executive said that despite the disastrous consequences of Covid-19 on the industry, Qantas knows “travel demand will rebound quickly” adding that the company is “in a strong position to secure the best possible deal at very good prices.”
The company is also planning on restarting operations for its long-haul fleet, after postponing an order for up to 12 Airbus A350 aircraft that would operate on the Sydney – London and Sydney – New York routes. Joyce said the long-haul fleet’s order is back on the agenda.
“We’re hoping in early 2022 we can make a call on it. So the decision could happen at the same time (as the domestic fleet) or maybe even slightly ahead. The ultra-long haul flights could start in 2024 or 2025.”
After more than 18 months of border closure, the Australian Federal Government has announced that borders will theoretically reopen from 14 November, allowing air travel to resume as normal.
Qantas has already scheduled six weekly return flights on the Sydney – London and Sydney – Los Angeles routes. Passengers will still be required to show proof of vaccination, take a PCR Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure and quarantine at home.
“We know Australians can’t wait to travel overseas and be reunited with their loved ones, and literally thousands are waiting to come back home, so this faster restart is fantastic news,” said Joyce on 1 October. “We had already sold out some of our international flights for December and seen strong demand on flights to and from London and Los Angeles, so we’re confident there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services.”