Singapore Airlines is transferring its order for 20 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to its wide body low cost subsidiary Scoot.
The announcement just made in Singapore says Scoot will use the jets to replace its recycled ex Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200s, and from 2014.
They must mean from 2015, however, its a fascinating move at several levels.
It makes it clear Scoot intends to be big, even though the 787-9 is per jet smaller than the aging earlier model 777s it now uses.
The move also poses an interesting strategic issue for Qantas subsidiary Jetstar. If Jetstar does
take the 15 earlier smaller sized 787-8s it is supposed to get from late 2013, then it gets a version that Boeing itself sees as being superseded by the -9 version.
The 787-9 is being promoted as having the range to do Singapore to any city in Europe non-stop, something that no-one seriously sees as viable for the 787-8 in a high density configuration.
[caption id="attachment_25821" align="aligncenter" width="426" caption="A Boeing graphic of a Singapore Airlines 787-9, as you won't see it after all."]
If however Jetstar's 787-8s are directed back to Qantas to replace its aging 767 fleet then from 2015 onwards Jetstar's A330s will have to compete with the flashier improved version of the Dreamliner, not to mention AirAsia X's Airbus A350-900s from around 2016 onwards.
None of those prospects would be welcome news for the Jetstar operation. Without a 787-9, or an A350-900, Jetstar can't fly non-stop from Singapore to London, if we discount those 'crazy' rumors about it getting some A380s from Qantas.
And Qantas, whatever it takes delivery of to replace its A330s, will come up against the A350-900s Singapore Airlines ordered in parallel to the 787-9s it is now gifting to Scoot.
The A350-900 is a larger jet than the 787-9 in terms of seating capacity, and with a notably wider cabin, which may well give it an advantage over the Dreamliner.
But why should Qantas worry? Emirates has plenty of A350s on order, and its the airline Qantas expects its customers to fly on to Europe from anywhere except Sydney and Melbourne, so 'she'll be right'. By the time Singapore Airlines and Emirates have gone about their fleet upgrades later this decade Qantas on its current trajectory will be irrelevant.