management performance

Apr 28, 2014

Qantas quiet as deadlines for 787s, and job losses approach

A personal perspective Qantas has been very quiet since late February when it outlined the massive job cuts that have yet to happen other than in a token way, a

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Qantas A380, Qantas 744 and Emirates A380 at Sydney: Qantas photo

A personal perspective

Qantas has been very quiet since late February when it outlined the massive job cuts that have yet to happen other than in a token way, and the Abbott cabinet slammed the money box shut on its fingers when it asked for a $3 billion unsecured loan.

There are however, timely reminders that investors, employees and any customers who give a damn anymore are drumming their fingers, waiting for the next stroke of management brilliance.

Such as this very interesting story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It focuses on adding capacity to Jetstar domestic flights on routes in SE Australia where it can’t fail to take business away from the full service Qantas network, against the backdrop of morale boosting threats being made by management to mainline staff and by inference the prospect of their being reassigned to Jetstar.

Let’s widen the focus on Jetstar. Qantas has around 11 delivered but idle brand new A320s  that have been parked for months at enormous costs awaiting expansion approvals for Jetstar Japan and approval to operate at all for Jetstar Hong Kong.

That’s around $US 4 million a month not counting finance charges and fixed costs including labour.  That’s also the size of the Tigerair Australia fleet, which isn’t profitable either on the most recent Virgin guidance, but certainly isn’t idle.

To park a fleet of brand new jets costing a fortune for months that is the size of your competitor’s domestic low cost brand requires genius.  And to pretend like Qantas has that these jets are variously ‘operational spares’ or just being lined up for the inevitable richly lucrative Hong Kong operation requires audacity.  And a board and major investors that are brain dead.

Of course relief is at hand. In February Qantas said it was holding off on Jetstar Asia expansion.  Great, after almost 10 years of snake oiling the promise of the Jetstar franchise in Asia, and diverting massive sums of money into its development, it’s so good it’s on hold.

The bad news is that Virgin Australia shows no signs of investing in a fleet expansion that would pick up the disenchanted from Qantas, or who will be very disenchanted if they discover that flying Qantas really means being shunted into Jetstar, and then remind Qantas of something it may have forgotten, which is that they have a choice.

This may also however be evidence that Virgin is rational.  Having more customers than you can seat is much better than having more seats than customers.  If Virgin thinks Tigerair is the answer …. No … let’s not even go there.

Late last week there was another Fairfax story which revisited the worst nightmare for many Qantas watchers, in that it quoted its chief executive international, Simon Hickey, as saying he believed the international business could return to profitability with its current fleet, particularly as its ageing 747s are retired.

That could be interpreted as meaning that Qantas will not take up its options for Boeing 787-9s , the second and much improved version of the Dreamliner as they start falling due, quite soon, for delivery slots which start to become available under those options in 2016.

It could also be interpreted as meaning that plans to keep the least aged 747s in service until the end of this decade or early into the next were being brought forward.

The refurbishment of Qantas owned A330s and the entry into service of brand new 787-9s are two capital expenditure items that Qantas watchers may have reason to fret about.

Yet the only material insight into the success of the current Qantas management’s strategies for international services so far has come not from Qantas, but Emirates, which is on the record as praising the flow of Qantas premium customers onto its A380s, under the ‘business’ partnership in which Qantas gave the Dubai based carrier its carriage of the kangaroo route markets to London from Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane for nothing.

And quit Frankfurt, another plus for Emirates and competitors such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

It’s an alarming outlook as Qantas implodes its way to success. The Jetstar franchise is on hold in Asia,  new equipment purchases for Qantas are under a cloud, and while it stands still or goes backwards, its competitors are all growing, because demand for travel between Australia and the world isn’t standing around waiting for the Australian carrier to do something.  Other than complain about everyone else and agitate for corporate welfare from government.

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39 thoughts on “Qantas quiet as deadlines for 787s, and job losses approach

  1. comet

    We’re witnessing Qantas in a tailspin.

    The more it holds onto ageing aircraft, the more its profits and reputation suffers. But it can’t pay for new aircraft until it gets out of its tailspin and makes profits.

    It’s a bit like an aircraft suffering a stall.

    The management that is flying Qantas is pushing the side-stick forward (let’s call it the JoyceStick) which will take it into a steeper and more perilous dive before it can try to pull itself out. All the while that terrain is getting closer.

  2. patrick kilby

    Ben on this quote “Qantas gave the Dubai based carrier its carriage of the kangaroo route markets to London from Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane for nothing.” I think there actually is a fee involved in this. QF tickets the flight and pays EK a fee and keeps the rest. EK had the rights regardless of the partnership: all this added is QF accessing the EK flights (in lieu of its own) and making money out of them. Code sharing and revenue sharing are both as old as the hills (or the 1990s at least) and virtually all (if not all) airlines do it.

  3. Anthony Tubbs

    Meanwhile, Boeing has been sounding out Virgin Australia about taking up at least some of the Qantas 789’s should Qantas forego those options that it holds.

    Apparently a fairly good trade in price for the 777-300’s has been offered if VA takes the 787’s

  4. Ben Sandilands


    It is one thing for an airline like Qantas to use its travel agent capabilities, such as it did through Jetset, to in effect clip coupons and make pennies.

    It is another thing to give away a physical service and all of the goodwill that Qantas quite rightly attaches to its brand to another carrier. Far from being about punching tickets the Emirates partnership sought to transfer Qantas customers and the total value of their purchases to another party for nothing.

  5. Pete

    Regardless of the 787 naysayers – Qantas needs to drop the 747s and streamline the fleet variety – 767s particularly.

    The 787-9s would be great for this – as I have said before – compare this with Air NZ who will soon have 777s and 787-9s – what a great mix.

    Instead, Qantas have A380s, 747s, 767s, and A330s.

    Read the Polish carrier LOTs view on 787 fuel efficiency and its effect on the bottom line (I am sure some 787 compo $$ helped too!) and read Kenya Airlines ambitious expansion from their base – it seems crazy that Qantas believe that they can only shrink.

    Getting 777s from Virgin wont be enough to replace all the 747s. IMHO they should embrace point to point, and expedite removal of the 747s and 767s with 787-9s.

    But if they don’t take up the 787-9 options and retain the 747s – they are in very serious trouble in a few years time I believe.

  6. comet

    And what happens after the next 787 fire erupts?

    The last one was in January 2014. It’s only a matter of time before there is another, as more 787s enter service. How will public confidence go, after they see another 787 on the evening news, with passengers being evacuated down the slides?

    The Narita incident proved that the Dreamliner lithium battery eruptions have not been fixed.

  7. Confirmed Sceptic

    Comet, as unfortunate as it is, the 787 is the only choice that Qantas has. They failed to order any 777 or A350, so the 787 remains the only potential fleet renewal path, sub-optimum as it is. (Size, potential for further problems, etc).

    I can think of no reason for Qantas to play brinksmanship with news of a 787 order. The announcement of any such order would boost the share price and employee engagement. On the other hand, the failure to trigger the options would do the reverse. Hence, I fear that no news is bad news.

  8. Potsie Weber

    I believe the real problem Qantas International has is the A380! It is too big for the “niche” Airline Qantas has become and I imagine the depreciation charges on them would be huge. Qantas has said it generates cash on its international operations but loses out when the large depreciation charges are included. With the A380’s being new, this is likely to continue for many years under the Australian tax rules. I can see the logic in keeping some of the 747’s; as they become fully depreciated they could contribute more towards the final profit figure than possibly a new type would; either leased or owned. If the A380’s were sold and leased back, there would likely be a massive hit to the financials as they are probably being carried way in excess of what may be realised in a sale/leaseback deal. So they are pretty much stuck with them and that rules out any other new type that may be more suitable for the airline.

  9. Geoff

    That Virgin Australia “shows no sign of investing in fleet expansion” merely indicates that the CEO of VA is careful to do his homework in quiet and make announcements when he’s ready.

    And why not when your main competitor (who rejected you as their CEO)insists on signalling, with a quaint north-western European brogue, it’s every move through the media!

  10. Confirmed Sceptic

    Depreciation rules are a red herring to some extent. During the recent begging theatre that Joyce engaged in you never heard one mention of the depreciation schedule as being a causative factor in QF’s plight.

    Further, the idea that you can spend an extra $40,000 in fuel on every Pacific crossing and still be competitive is idiotic. Our division manager even goes around saying things like the fuel savings would be offset by lease prices. Logic that would see us dust off the 707s if we still had any.

    In any event, the wide body shop is closed for new orders until 2021. So eight more years of operating the wrong equipment? Not at an 800 million loss/year. Its exactly like trying to operate 707s in 1990, twenty years after the 747. It has been twenty since the 777 re-revolutionised travel, and QF failed utterly to get with the times.

    Failure to convert these 787 orders will absolutely, positively sound QF’s death knell.

    *assumes no 777/350 aircraft are available at commercially favourable lease rates.

  11. patrick kilby

    Potsie the A380 is the cheapest plane about per seat km and is perfect for long distance curfew and slot restricted airports such as London and LA (Sydney is the curfew bit here) and should be perfect for Dallas. Moving a lot of people a long distance is a good use for such a plane as EK is showing us. As for depreciatio they would still have to be paying depreciation on TWO 787s-(8s!) for each A380. They will buy the 787-9 and order it when they need to but not before, and there will be more A380s on the horison as well. There are a few financial ducks to line up first.

  12. chris turnbull

    I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that QANTAS takes up its 78-9 options. Even if the 777 is the optimal aircraft (and I agree that it is) it’s too late now. It’s the 787 or bust. It’s the only viable 744 replacement available in a reasonable length of time. My hope was that all the yelling over the ratings downgrade was linked to an intention to finance many 787 orders, and that certain assumptions about the cost of the finance were no longer valid. It doesn’t matter how good the 744 was – is – as an aircraft the only way for the price of fuel is up. C’mon QANTAS – use the full potential of your most valuable remaining asset – the brand.

  13. Frustrated Pilot

    I’d like to know why both the company secretary and assistant secretary resigned on the same day? Details here under Announcements on 31/3/14.

  14. Glen McDonald

    Patrick (Kilby): You said, “They will buy the 787-9 and order it when they need to but not before, and there will be more A380s on the horison (sic) as well.”
    I’d like to be able to take some comfort about the future of Qantas from your post, but could you please take a moment to share the reason for your confident optimism to support that?

    Ben(all): RE: Qantas deferred aircraft orders; Is Boeing likely to hold on indefinitely for Qantas to ‘need to and not before’? I feel as though Qantas ‘need to’ now or even yesterday. Similarly with the A380s; is Airbus likely to allow Qantas sufficient time to align its ducks before selling the aircraft to another buyer?
    While I hope Virgin announces the acquisition of some 787/A350 aircraft and the extension of its international operation to new destinations soon, I would also love to have confidence that Qantas will be around stronger and better for the long term (and not dwarfed by Jetstar or Rex)
    Unfortunately, at the moment, the only solution I can see for the flying kangaroo is for Mr Joyce to take the orange stars out of his eyes and follow the line of lights on the floor to the nearest exit.

  15. Ben Sandilands


    The Boeing options are each a right to confirm the purchase of a 787 at a specific sequence in the production run.

    So to pluck detals out of the air, if one of the Qantas options is for a 787-9 currently due for delivery in May 2016 the terms say that no later than November 2014 Qantas must convert the option to a firm order at the price agreed many years ago, and pay the purchase installments to Boeing as they fall due. Many years ago there were three installments, the last being paid after test flight acceptance by the customer. (This may well have changed since then). But the basic proposition is that you exercise your option by the date due or lose it.

    Qantas locked in exceptionally low prices for its 787s. Boeing would no doubt be thrilled if they were to relinquish the spots because they might have buyers all ready to pay two or maybe three times as much. Boeing screwed itself over the December 2005 sale agreement, and has paid out more than $400 million in damages to Qantas for not meeting original delivery targets etc, so I doubt there is much love lost.

    The actual cost of options granted in some case more than 10 years ago was described to me by a previous management as trivial.

    The A380 deferrals were not options but orders. Qantas has substantial money at risk in doing anything other than negotiating agreed deferrals. However I have doubts Qantas will take the remaining A380s, which would be the extremely capable 575 tonne version and the managers who try to clean up the mess will probably write off substantial penalties, or seek to offset them for A320 and A330 orders, and I’m not sure Airbus would agree nor whether such a swop would extinguish the sale contract debt.

  16. fractious

    Ben #15 (7.25pm)

    So by that reckoning Q has backed itself into a tight corner – if it keeps going the way it is it’s bust. The merits of the 787 (not fully realised or otherwise) regardless, I can’t see how significant reliance on one model is a good long-term strategy, even if they take it up.

    Speaking of over-reliance and long-term strategy, your (deliberate?) refusal to even type the letters “JSF” or “F-35” last week caused a wry smile here – I guess it gets to the point where you think “what’s there left to say?”

  17. Ben Sandilands

    The JSF story is important, but I realised two heart attacks ago that trying to spread myself over defence as well as air travel keeping up a news and analysis site that makes no serious money wan’t all that smart. To do defence you have to make room for a second set of contacts. You have to deal with two totally different cultures. It had to be one or the other or lights out.

  18. fractious


    Fully acknowledged – as a singleton there’s only so much territory you can cover and none of it is worth sending yourself to an early grave over. Nonetheless I appreciate your previous efforts at the fustercluck that is the JSF, it’s still a useful ‘suppository’ (as the PM would have it) of info, shame no-one at defence procurement apparently read it. And IMO Bernard Keane did a decent job at blowing some gaping holes in the idea.

  19. Confirmed Sceptic

    Being unable to resist the F-35 thing: last week was a delightfully cynical time for such an announcement, bracketed as it was by holidays. I cannot help but wonder which war these people fear that they shall have to fight, and against which foes?

    Australia has an aversion to overseas adventures with the Air Force, and I am not entirely sure that we are really anything more than the southern chapter of Pax Americana when it comes to defence.

    Has anyone mentioned the stockpile of war shots that 60 fighters will require? You’d think that for every actual war sortie there would have to be ten million or more on the hardpoints, and hundreds of sorties worth of munitions in the dumps. What will an AMRAM cost in 2020? Or an AIM 9M?

    The.modern cost of killing an incoming fighter is so high that you could probably just bribe the other guy’s pilots a hundred million each and still save money.

  20. patrick kilby


    I think Ben gave the reasons. They will delay making a decision until they have to, say Nov this year, for 2016 deliveries because they well need to bed down their cost cutting and negotiate good (read lower!!) crew terms for the 789, both of which take time. I can see them taking the A380s later when a lower cost (NEO?) version comes along from 2018 or so, but a a dribble of a delivery rate (1-2 p.a), so some maybe replacements at that rate. They have a very good price on both 789s and A380s, so they will need to trump up the capital to cover them; this maybe from selling half of the FF scheme or some such. This year QF will be cutting costs and squeezing as much out of the existing fleet in terms of utilisation. This is what the A330 make-over is about.

  21. keesje

    Its seems to me the 787-8 and -9 have become small, inbetween the A330 and A380. A decade after the massive QF 787 order, it seems the A350 has become the better fit. A combination of the -900 and -1000 would offer the benefits of 777 at much lower operating costs. It seems the 787-10 will lack the range for Pacific operations, limitting flexibility. Futhermore I am not convinced the 9 abreast 787 cabin is ideal for 12-14 hour flights.

    The A350 has been ordered by nearly all major international airlines and is sold out. Probably Airbus, lessors, Emirates and airlines cancelling orders (e.g Kingfisher) would make available aircraft in a few years. I see the chances of QF ordering A350s in the coming years larger then 50%.

  22. Devils Advocate

    I agree with confirmed sceptic. You should take improvements to cashflow over depreciation any day of the week. In fact the ideal situation is strong cashflow with lots of depreciation as you can tax shield you profits. Additionally there is convincing argument that new aircraft more attractive to customers and may drive the topline revenue – which is very powerful for profits in an industry with high fixed costs.

    Big issue for Qantas is how to pay for the new 787’s. Taking on more debt seems tough. Joyce and the board might have to bite the bullet and do a capital raise to allow capital investment in the right equipment to return to profitability.

    In the short term this seems unlikely as they appear to want to maximise the ‘bad news’ to re-negotiate / re-structure their employee arrangements.

  23. reeves35

    [quote] I see the chances of QF ordering A350s in the coming years larger then 50%.[/quote]

    I don’t. If they aren’t going to order the 789 with the extraordinarily good pricing they currently have access to, they aren’t going to order anything.

    This isn’t to say the 789 is better than the A350 or vice versa, it is just finances and Airbus would be nuts to go anywhere near QF’s current 789 pricing.

  24. Pete

    I totally agree with a few of the followup comments here:

    – Yes, it would have absolutely made sense for Qantas to have had the 777 – but they missed that boat – could they trade some 787-9 options for early delivery 777-300ER before the transition to the 777X at a great price? Possibly. Boeing have a production gap to fill in the middle?
    – They have undoubtedly gotten great prices for the 787-9s and A350 delivery wouldn’t be any faster anyway, so I don’t see much chance of A350 orders.

    @Comet – I agree that placing all your eggs in one basket is risky – but unless they can get 777’s in quantity and quickly to supplement the 787s – they have no choice.

  25. michael r james

    #19 Confirmed Sceptic at 11:28 pm
    “The.modern cost of killing an incoming fighter is so high that you could probably just bribe the other guy’s pilots a hundred million each and still save money.”

    Absolutely. (And throw in Australian citizenship for the whole family of the pilot.)
    The Milo Minderbinder option.
    Isn’t that more or less what the yanks were doing in Afghanistan? Remember seeing those hay bale sized, err bales, of US greenbacks being offloaded from C130s in Kabul–beyond surreal.

    Which, sceptic, is why I advocate putting that ≈$30 bn (all up) into a domestic aviation and electronics industry making … you guessed it, drones. Instead we’re just supporting Uncle Sam’s industry.

  26. Dan Dair

    In principle, I very strongly resist putting combat drones into action. (You only have to look at US’s mistakes in this area to follow my reasoning)
    I don’t believe there is any vested-interest in doing a proper job of advance reconnaissance, if you’re not going to put any of your own people ‘in harms way’.
    (I would forgo this principle in an instant if a specific ‘enemy’ was to direct this against us first)

    That said, I think reconnaissance drones are a thoroughly good idea
    Any viable proposal to create or develop a home-based industry to compete with ‘Uncle Sam’ & others in this field should be thoroughly supported by the Government & domestic industrialists / capital venturers.
    I expect I’m in agreement with you that this is an area which we would expect to grow significantly over the next ten years, as both the software & hardware becomes more capable.

    Getting in on the ground floor whilst you still can would be an opportunity not to be missed.

  27. Dan Dair

    On the subject of the F35/JSF,

    What’s wrong with the existing equipment.?
    (Completely refurbishing existing aircraft, spending $10million on each one would look like chicken feed next to the price of each new F35)

    As I look back, pretty much every new generation of combat aircraft was ‘better’ than the one before.
    The F35 seems to buck this trend.
    I’m not trying to say that it isn’t better at all.

    It just seems to be better at doing stuff that you’re probably never going to get the chance to use.?

    Essentially, modern ‘fighter’ aircraft are really missile-platforms.
    Aircraft rarely, if ever, actually shoot at eachother in a line-of-sight incident anymore, so being stressed to +/- 5G doesn’t seem that relevant.
    A fast stealthy aircraft that carries a high payload of weapons, has excellent avionics and warfare electronics and has long range &/or can stay airborne for a significant period is what’s needed in current (& foreseeable) warfare.

    The old stuff was pretty good at most of those things.
    This new plane doesn’t seem significantly better in any of those areas, but by God it’s expensive.!!!
    (& on top of that, as Confirmed Sceptic said;
    “Has anyone mentioned (cost of) the stockpile of war shots that 60 fighters will require?”)

  28. michael r james

    I hope we are not Americans yet. Of course I cannot speak for genY or genZ.
    And though my primary motivation is to use the big military (bipartisan) budgets for things to stimulate native industry in strategic areas (that should have big spillover into non-military markets directly, and indirectly in terms of software and subsystems, navigation etc etc), I also think it is unspeakably awful to be so totally dependent upon the Americans. And I don’t mean just materialistically (equipment) but in real capability and strategically. Incredibly I find myself citing Malcolm Fraser who wrote recently “Great powers do not reward loyalty; that is the abiding illusion on which our defence policy has been based for more than a century. The US will do whatever is in its interests.”

    I have been something of a sinophile for about four decades and so I accept the Hugh White approach on what our China policy should be –and that means well-differentiated from dumb and probably malign American “policy”. The notion of being the Deputy Sherif sends a shudder down my back when I think about what the people who control America think are their national interests.

    Of course I think human-piloted fighters are almost redundant today. So how great would it be to have our own drones (for everything including different models for reconnaissance and counter to air power etc), not beholden to any other power in their design or deployment. We already have reasonable competence in submarines and naval vessels. Perhaps we might finally grow up and take responsibility for our own defence, and generate a useful hi-tech industry at the same time.

  29. michael r james

    #27 Dan Dair

    “Essentially, modern ‘fighter’ aircraft are really missile-platforms”

    Exactly the case I have made in these pages, and exactly why they can and will be replaced by drones. (Of course I don’t mean the current view of those slow-moving drones but ones that are closer to fighter jets in speed and maneouverability.) And increasingly the targeting & deployment of those missiles is computer-aided anyway.

  30. Dan Dair

    michael r james, posting #28.

    “I hope we are not Americans yet”

    No, absolutely not….
    when presented with the same equipment & similar situations, the likelihood is that the same mistakes will be made, for all the same reasons.

    I agree with you that the use of combat drones, and eventually fully-fledged fighter drones, is inevitable,
    My concern is that the military will have an increasing element of unconcern simply because there own people (pilots) are not in jeopardy in such an operation.

    Maybe I worry too much….
    Maybe others don’t worry enough.???

  31. keesje

    For long flights accross the Pacific, the 787-9 seems too small. Realistic seat counts with a three class cabin seem low. Seat specs commonality with A380 and A330 make the 787 9 abreast seats narrow at those long flights. The largest 777 operators already ordered the A350 in large numbers; EK, UA, AA, BA, JAL, SQ, CX, AF, QR, it seems Boeing has lost its grip on the 300-350 seat long haul segment.
    For QF the A350 can offer capabilities and efficiencies Boeing doesn’t have available in a decade. The 78-10 lacks the range, the 777-8x will be heavy and 2021, the 77-9X larger and 2020. EK still hasn’t signed the 777x contract..

  32. ggm

    A (very probably) silly Q. IF you had the cash, even at junk status loan rate, why wouldn’t you exercise the option to buy at the low price, and then sell on at current value?

    Instant speculative gain.

    Second Silly Q. Why trade 380 options (assuming Airbus Industrie agreed) for 320 and 330? Surely the hole in the model right now is 350 sized. Why take 320’s ?

  33. FlyLo


    I think you might be a little premature in your prediction of the demise of the 777!

    In addition to the existing large fleets of 777s (590 aircraft in total) held by the airlines you list (EK, UA, AA, BA, JAL, SQ, CX, AF and QR), these airlines also have back orders for 99 777-300ERs and EK, CX and QR have placed orders and commitments for 221 777 X aircraft.

    In addition, the airlines you mentioned (with the exception of EK and CX) hold orders for 299 Boeing 787 aircraft.

    This compares to total orders of 292 Airbus A350 aircraft placed by the same airlines.

    Regarding your comment on the size of the 787-9, have you flown on a 787-8? In my experience, there is no comparison between an Airbus A330 and a Boeing 787-8. The Airbus A330 cabin seems much narrower than the Boeing 787; the cabin ceiling feels much lower and the side walls of the cabin curve inwards in a pronounced fashion, which I notice particularly when sitting at a window seat, my preferred seat.

    By contrast, the 787-8 cabin feels like a 777 (or 747) cabin. The side walls are flat, the ceiling seems much higher and there is a much greater sense of space. I would choose 9 across in a 787 to 8 across in an A330 any time! I find the A330 claustrophobic in economy on flights any longer than about 6 hours.

    The A350 boasts a cabin which is approximately four inches (10 centimetres) wider than a 787, hence the ‘XWB’ moniker. As an economy travelling passenger, any extra elbow room is welcome.

    I see Airbus is seeking to market the A350 XWB as an aircraft offering ‘a minimum of 18 inches seat width in economy’.

    But many airlines already install economy seating narrower than this with a 17 inch seat width now terrifyingly becoming the new ‘standard’.

    Airbus is looking to offer 11-across economy on parts of the main deck of the A380 so the definition of ‘narrow’ in economy flying is really uncoupled from the size of the aircraft on which one is being flown.

    The 787-8 I travelled on had significantly more elbow room (and wider seats) in a 9-across configuration than a number of the horrible 10-across configuration of the Boeing 777-300ER as currently configured by Emirates, Air New Zealand and Air Canada (to name but three of the worst offenders).

    I suppose it all comes down to airline economics as to what aircraft size ‘works’ on flights across the Pacific.

    My interest will always be focused less with the size of the aircraft and more with the amount of internal space each aircraft provides me as an economy passenger.

  34. patrick kilby


    I think the 789 with around 290-300 seats (mixed three class), will complement the A380 of QF well for transpacific. It can take over the second daily LA flight from Melb as well as Brisbane. Dallas may be better suited to the A380 unless there are separate Dallas flights from Syd and Melb.

  35. keesje

    “In my experience, there is no comparison between an Airbus A330 and a Boeing 787-8.”

    That is remarkable. The seat in an A330 are a full inch wider! If have not flown the 787 yet, but seen many trip reports and most seem slight disappointed.

    “Airbus is looking to offer 11-across economy on parts of the main deck of the A380 so the definition of ‘narrow’ in economy flying is really uncoupled from the size of the aircraft on which one is being flown.”

    Somehow everyone forgets to mention the “crammed” 11 abreast A380 seats will still be 18 inch wide..

    I think the extra meters of the 787-9, its extra range will make it a fine long haul machine when airlines use the 2-4-2 originally foreseen in the back. Airlines boldly went 10 abreast in the 777-300ER saying its ok but now are taking flak from deteriorating passengers satisfaction and brand damage. Just read the various forums and trip reports, there is unwelcome surprise and anger everywhere.

    The airlines and Boeing will try to strongly deny and downplay 10 abreast 777 (and 9 abreast long 787 flights) hurts passenger satisfaction, using all kind of half truths and innovative diversions. I see temperatures rising and Airbus opportunists will keep throwing oil on the fire.

    Re 777X, the fact Boeing keeps using the “and commitments” to tel how great the 777X market reception is, should ring bells. How many “and commitmnents” does the A350 have? Nobody is interested (& they shouldn’t be).

    The A350-900/-1000 did much better then Boeing expected and most large 777 operators have switched, forcing Boeing to jump in with a seriously compromised 787-10 (payload range) and 777-8X (weight/CASM).

    For many airlines during the last 15 years the A330-200 + 777-200ER proved an excellent long haul combination. Maybe 787-9 + A350-1000 will be the next strong combination.

    For QF the A350 family seems an excellent gap filler inbetween the 787/A330 and A380. Specially across the Pacific. The 777X is risky, heavy & late.


  36. FlyLo


    I recommend that you try the 787 and experience it for yourself!

    I had a window seat at the front of the wing on my last flight and the engines on take-off and landing are incredibly quiet. It is almost an A380 level of quiet.

    Compared to a 777 where the engines are deafening on take-off it is a remarkable achievement. I also find the 787 wing design to be a thing of beauty.

    For someone like me who enjoys a window seat, the flat high side wall, enormous windows (reminiscent of those on DC-10s but even taller) and general sense of space in the cabin made the flying experience most enjoyable.

    In comparison, travelling on an A330 (particularly in the window seat) feels very cramped to me irrespective of the apparent seat width.

    I find the nine-across 777 (and now the 787) to be infinitely preferable to the A330 for medium or long-haul travel.

    The A350 XWB looks to be a huge improvement over the A330. I can’t wait to try it when it enters service.

    I’m well aware of the seat width in an 11-across A380. But would you ever want to sit on a long-haul flight in the middle of a row of five seats with two people either side of you? I know I wouldn’t!

  37. Dan Dair


    Re: 787 options.
    It’ll be in the small-print of the option deal that QF (& other buyers) are forbidden from re-selling within a certain period of time after delivery specifically to prevent speculative buying.

    Re: 380’s.
    I guess that this says a lot about where Mr Joyce is looking to position the Qantas ‘group’ for the next 10-15 years. Ie. away from long haul & more & more focused on the single-aisle, low-cost business.
    He’s given a lot of international business away to EK who were happy to improve their own load-factors with it.
    Maybe they’re making a couple of bucks on those sales, but it’ll not be the same profit as flying a full-load to Europe & back.
    Additionally, it still appears that JQ isn’t making a return on investment.

    They don’t want the planes for the long-haul business sector other airlines are thriving in, nor can they seem to make a profit in the low-cost area they’ve been spending money developing.
    So all-in-all it doesn’t make any sense either way to this outside observer.

  38. keesje

    FlyLo, I like the 777 too, 9 abreast or in front of the wing (6 abreast)..

    “But would you ever want to sit on a long-haul flight in the middle of a row of five seats with two people either side of you?”

    Generally not, but.. I remember once (11-11-2001), MH777-200ER night flight from Brisbane, having an aisle seat of a 5 seater. The elderly couple next to me had to wake me up 3-4 times within a few hours to go to the lav. I offered to take the middle seat & had a good sleep after all (MH offer(ed) 34 inch pitch) / recline)

  39. nobeljnet

    Wouldn’t a shrinking airline, be able to make good use of A380s, from hubs back to downunder? Now that it has withdrawn in terms of long haul to this side of hubs in the UAE, or America?
    747s retired.
    Let’s see how long it’ll take to get A330s pressed into point to point full service internationally.
    And presumably closer to home newish 737s and A320s can do the rest? 767s retired, SYD MEL I prefer dual aisled 767 over 737, that is for sure though!
    Give or take some props.
    Newer planes, improved service … I certainly fail to see the relevance of a children’s choir, with patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel, to a service experience.

    In the mean time here is plenty of choice, especially given a little help in selecting from Routehappy or SkyTrax or Tripadvisor …

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