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Dreamliner debut now planned by Qatar for Perth next month

Qatar looks the certain winner of the 787 stakes in Australia, while Qantaslink continues to firm in speculation for an Airbus A319 order.

Not Air-India to Melbourne by August, not China Southern to Sydney early next year, but Qatar Airways from Doha to Perth in late December now seems highly likely to be the first scheduled service by a 787 Dreamliner to Australia.

Speaking to travel writers in Belgrade, the chief executive officer of the airline, Akbar Al Baker said the 787-8 would be used in the last week of December to lift the current frequency of its Perth-Doha service from three flights weekly to daily, apparently at first in association with the 777s now flying that route and the longer flights from the middle east hub to Melbourne.

Al Baker was speaking shortly after Qatar’s current single 787-8 began shakedown services between Doha and Dubai, prior to being transferred to the London route.  He was quoted in Travel Daily as saying the airline would soon have four of the Dreamliners, out of 30 on order, in service.

The YouTube below shows that first Qatar 787-8 being used to entertain the crowds at this year’s Farnborough Air Show, when flown through sets of steep climbs and tight banking turns by Boeing pilots with a licence to thrill.

YouTube Preview Image

Early this year Air-India insisted it would be first to fly the 787 to Australia, talking up a complicated circular routing through Sydney and Melbourne in either direction to New Delhi or Mumbai via various other cities in India that would have taken most of a day.

After that plan dropped off the radar the next airline expected to fly a scheduled Dreamliner to Australia became China Southern, which does seem highly likely to happen on the Sydney-Guangzhou route early in the New Year.

Which means Qatar is now the hot favourite to win the Dreamliner stakes in Australia.

In other developments, Qantas is widely expected to announce an order for single aisle Airbus A319s for its Qantaslink regional brand in the near future, to the apprehension of pilots engaged by its full service domestic division. 

Qantas has a policy of not commenting on fleet speculation. But it does appear to be gearing up for more and newer jets in its Qantaslink operation, which given the growth of flights in that part of its domestic network, could reasonably be seen as inevitable.

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  • 1
    ltfisher
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit slow Ben but why should pilots in the Qantas ‘full service” business be apprehensive about Qantas buying A319s for Qantaslink?

  • 2
    Ben Sandilands
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    The concerns are an extension of the argument that has been around since the launch of Jetstar that the ‘end game’ would be to isolate, reduce or extinguish the pilot enterprise agreements or T & Cs that apply to established full service operations with parallel or replacement operations with lower pay and conditions.

    In theory in industrial law this is not allowed. My own view is that it not realistic to argue what might happen until we know what Qantas intends.

    Qantas was able to set up a new low cost structure with Jetstar as a new brand and business model. I don’t think that argument is available in the case of Qantaslink, but some people do.

    It would be good if Qantas could strengthen its business without further alienating its people, similarly it would be good if it could engage its people in a co-operative evolution of its airline offerings in general.

    In short, it would be good if there was a determined effort on the part of management and labour to avoid more of the same, which has been very damaging for everyone, including the customers.

  • 3
    ltfisher
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Ben.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if this Qantas/Qantaslink separation was ended and the Qantas painted aircraft [omitting Jetstar] could be both seen to be and in fact be the one business? The separation of Qantaslink is really a joke: for the passenger the aircraft are painted as Qantas aircraft, the flights carry QF flight numbers,the fares are the same and Qantaslink aircraft operate many of the same trunk routes as ‘regular’ Qantas aircraft eg CBR-SYD, CBR-ADL. If the pilots are the bone of contention then it’s about time that they started to learn that in an aircraft the important people aren’t always those two or three sitting in the cockpit. For its part management needs to learn that the only important people are those prepared to pay to put their bums on the Qantas aircraft seats.

  • 4
    moa999
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    The question is how can Qantas strengthen/ grow its operations when its costs are out of whack with the competition. No problem in a fat margin industry, but not in aviation.

    Each airline has a limited number of differentiable costs – all the competition has the plane, fuel, landing charges etc… staff costs is one of the few that is controllable/differentiable.
    And its not just the two pilots up the front, given the rostering, training and safety limitations, its 10+ pilots per plane, and probably 30+ FAs.

    The Virgin/Skywest deal is interesting. Skywest has Fokkers/ATRs and one A320. Be very interested how Skywest A320 pay relates to Tiger/ Jetstar and indeed QantasLink 717.

    If Qantas does buy 319s it will be competing with the newly much better funded Skywest, and I’m sure the FIFO contracts don’t leave much margin to play with.

  • 5
    Bill Parker
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Skywest might have done a deal with VA but that didn’t rejuvenate its fleet! That A320 is 20 years old and the little Fokkers are not much younger. I hear the noisy lot every day at off to work time (around 05.00 onwards)

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