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Qantas confirms Brisbane for ‘strike force’ A330 renewal

Inside the newly upgraded Qantas heavy maintenance facility BNE: Qantas image

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.

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  • 1
    comet
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    The mind ponders about those retrospective improvements that A330s of the future might have.

    Apart from new engines, I wonder whether a large number of the aluminium panels could be replaced with lighter magnesium. That would give the A330 a weight advantage that rivals the current generation of plastic planes.

    There’s a campaign to have the current FAA ban on magnesium lifted, as Kumamoto University in Japan has overcome the flammability issue, and Monash University has largely overcome the corrosion issue (by doping Mg with arsenic).

  • 2
    Zarathrusta
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I wish Virgin or Qantas would put some A330s on the Adelaide to Sydney or Brisbane route. I loath 7crush7s.

  • 3
    Pete
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    I would assume these are the A330′s coming back to Qantas as Jetstar puts in the 787.

    @comet my guess is the refurbishment is largely interior. Airbus is doing an improved A330 – its called the A350. The A330neo wont happen IMHO – Airbus have enough programs on the go as it is.

  • 4
    Dan Dair
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    What does it say about the relationship between Qantas & Jetstar, that JQ get the newest, most efficient aircraft & QF gets its old A330′s back for refurbishment.?
    I don’t care how much they spend refurbing them, they’re still relatively old-tech.
    It’s like trying to get really excited about the B717 refurbs. It’s a big improvement for the interior, but it’s not going to change the aircrafts’ operating costs.
    I would have thought that if QF were serious about maintaining their brand profile, IT would get the newest aircraft & their low-cost sideline would get the cast-offs.?
    Shows what I know about good business practice.???

  • 5
    moa999
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    DanDair,

    Give me a comfortable 10-yr old aircraft with half decent (31/32″) pitch in economy and decent width, over a brand new plastic fantastic with windows that don’t fully black out the light, a tendancy to have problems and seats that are literally jammed to the gills in both directions.

  • 6
    Pete
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    @moa999 my guess is you haven’t flown in a 787 – neither have I, but a work colleague who has (on United, so I cant imagine it’s super-lux) said it was fantastic, quiet, smooth and thought the windows were great.

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