Qantas confirms Brisbane for ‘strike force’ A330 renewal
It is referred to as the Qantas wide body ‘strike force’ in some circles, a fleet of 30 Airbus A330s to be significantly refurbished and upgraded between late next year and mid-2016, and the airline today confirmed the work will be done at its Brisbane Airport heavy maintenance and engineering base.
Speaking at the opening of a $30 million upgrade to the facility itself the Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:
“From late 2014, we will be upgrading all 30 of our Airbus A330s with Business Suites with fully flat beds. Ten A330-300s for Qantas International will feature new Economy seats and 20 A330-200s for Qantas Domestic will see their Economy seats refurbished.
“It will take around 30 days for each aircraft to get upgraded and we expect the program to be completed in mid-2016.
“The $30 million upgrade to the Brisbane facilities includes the installation of advanced equipment to enable Qantas’ fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to undergo heavy maintenance in the facility.
“Qantas is the only major airline that does heavy maintenance in Australia. We will continue to do the majority of our maintenance in Australia, employing thousands of people.”
Mr Joyce also said 30 new engineering apprentices were being recruited by Qantas, 20 to be based in Brisbane and ten in Sydney.
Those who have described the A330 fleet as the Qantas ‘strike force’ say its importance to the airline’s domestic and international strategies cannot be understated for the rest of the decade which has been said by the company to be about the time these jets might be replaced by newer airliner types.
The wide bodied medium sized Airbuses are highly reliable and cost efficient and ‘right sized’ for its operations in regional international and transcontinental Perth services and could if demand patterns shift, be just as effective on trans Tasman and Pacific island routes.
There are also expectations in some quarters that retrospective improvements to the airframe and its engines may be available in coming years, as Airbus repositions the A330 as a cost effective competitor to the 787 family over short to medium ranges.
The ugrade program also removes, but unfortunately for Qantas, not for another year at the outset, the inconsistent product offering which exists across its A330s at present.