fleet decisions

Dec 13, 2016

Qantas 787s to replace 744s on MEL-LAX routes next December

Very first international Qantas 787-9 route will be Melbourne-Los Angeles

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Now add nine normal sized adults to these economy seats in the Qantas 787-9
Now add nine normal sized adults to these economy seats in the Qantas 787-9 for 14 hours

Qantas will begin using its Boeing 787-9s to replace its aging 747-400s when it makes the Melbourne-Los Angeles route the first to get an international Dreamliner service from next December 15.

The Dreamliner will carry 236 passengers in a business, premium economy and economy class configuration and complement the daily Airbus A380 service already flying the MEL-LAX route. The 787-9s will fly the route six times a week, replacing the 747 service that currently operates alongside the A380.

This will lift Qantas services on the route from nine to 13 return flights per week and give travellers the convenience of a morning or afternoon departure from Melbourne on most days. As it replaces a larger, 364-seat 747 that operates twice a week, the net capacity increase is approximately 1,400 seats in total.

The announcement of the first Qantas international 787 route follows earlier news that the Dreamliner will be used to launch non-stop routes between Perth and London in March 2018 (using a schedule that may start and end with a Melbourne-Perth sector.)

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13 thoughts on “Qantas 787s to replace 744s on MEL-LAX routes next December

  1. chris turnbull

    That solves the discussion about the first route and also explains the configuration- by the increase in frequency (boy they must have been cheap !). Only 8 planes in the first bunch . I wonder how many aircraft would be needed for each of the two announced routes ? And what fate befalls the 744’s? new routes or soda cans ?

    1. JW (aka James Wilson)

      Rumour has it that some of the older 744s will be pensioned off in the next few years as they come up for their next D-checks. The others will be around for a bit longer.

      1. Tango

        Yep they will be gone. A lot of 400s being parked.

      2. Dan Dair

        I thought that QF had actually announced that they were going to refurbish the interiors of about half of their (newest) B747’s,
        which by implication meant that they weren’t going to do anything to the rest.
        The logical conclusion of that being as the older aircraft come up to their D-checks they’ll be parked-up.?

        I expect that they’ve tied-in the end-of-life dates for the older B747’s with the delivery dates of the B787’s which will replace them.?

  2. comet

    Is Qantas going to squish the passengers in 9-across? Just like all the other Dreamliners?

    This will be a torture chamber.

    It’s getting harder to avoid 787s on the Australia-US route. Maybe the solution is to fly Virgin or American Airlines spacious 777s.

    1. Tango

      Seat count is 234, fairly low for a 787-9

      I too am interested in how it compares to existing.


      I am far more a tech guy than a seat guy. This looks to make it 9 across, better leg room which I like but have not flown long distance in 30 years so the width might be an issues after longer time.

  3. JJJ

    I do 5 or 6 trips to the US a year and avoid 787’s like the plague, regardless of which end of the bus I’m sitting. When I first saw the headline in the paper I was worried they were going to replace the QF93/94 with a 787 service, at least the A380’s will still be on the route. I’m guessing the other route they’ll do is Sydney to Tokyo as the 747’s on that tend to be very ancient.

    1. Giant Bird

      On the Sydney to Tokyo route QF would be competing against JAL 8 across 787’s with impeccable service and spotless toilets the whole journey not just at the start. So good luck with that. You can fool some of the people for a while but the word eventually gets around.

  4. comet

    Emirates likes to boast how the A380 boosts ticket sales.

    I wonder if there’s any data of the opposite happening when a 787 is put on the route.

    1. Pete

      Well, its not reflected in sales, that’s for sure.
      The 787 continues to tick along, with a few airlines adding to their original orders, and the A380 has no new sales.
      Emirates has just deferred 2017 and 2018 orders for A380s, which brings Airbus back to below profitable production volumes – so it cant have been popular. Now add in Emirates results – which I flagged in a comment last year – which show yield and profit per seat dropping even with low oil prices. Your guess on which planes the lower yield is happening?

      1. Ben Sandilands

        So let’s consider this in the Australian context. As the slots it uses out of the Australia (and indeed many other jurisdictions) are finite, Emirates gives up 517 seat three class A380s for equally spaciously configured 210 seat 787-9s (Qantas only gets 235 seats in this jet in three classes and downgrounds the space available in economy to LCC standards) for a higher capital cost per installed seat and turns away more than half its customers. It no longer has product differentiation either.
        I think there is more going on in the always tough playground of long haul airline services to and from overcrowded airports than meets the eye. And let’s not worry about route fragmentation as a cure. Emirates now has multi daily A380s and 777-300ERs to places where other carriers struggle to compete with smaller, less attractive Airbuses and Boeings.

        Let’s instead ask ourselves what happens when growth resumes? (In Australia, where there is above global trend international growth, the received wisdom is that we stuff around for decades building new airport and runways, or even the infrastructure that allows people to reach them efficiently. I can still hear the voices of our political and planning elites intoning that Sydney-Melbourne would never require more than 16 Lockheed Electra sized return flights a day, or that Sydney might need a third runway by 2025.)

  5. patrick kilby

    The extra 744 flight is seasonal so by March when Perth London starts the LA 789 flight may go back to 3-4 per week. The 789 is good for playing with boosting capacity and then easing back. The next announcement will be a new EK deal with new codeshares and fewer QF flight to DXB. Will the Melbourne flight stop all together or be a Dubai terminator? The A380s can be be refitted over a year and be used solely out of Sydney with a daily Sin and HK rotation added.

    1. Red Devil

      According to to the Airservices Commission QF has just regained MEL-SIN-LHR rights which would make sense. You might actually fill the aeroplane then!

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