Qantas is expected to announce on Tuesday that it is pursuing plans to replace its entire short-haul fleet.
A Request For Proposals will be issued to Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer and would involve replacing Qantas’s 20 717s, and its fleet of 80 Boeing 737-800s.
It is expected that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce will make the announcement on Tuesday, October 5th from Boston where he is attending the IATA AGM.
Candidates for the order are the 120-150 seat Airbus A220 and the 90-120-seat Embraer E2 for the regional jets and the 180-230 seat Airbus A320 and 180-220 seat 737 MAX for the larger narrow-body jets.
Qantas has been considering the order for some time but the plans have been delayed by COVID, as has its order for the 300-seat A350 for the Sydney to London and New York non-stop flights.
It selected the Airbus A350-1000 over the Boeing 777X in December 2019 but the signing of the order was deferred until international borders were re-opened.
Airbus is considered the frontrunner for the deal because Qantas subsidiary Jetstar has more than 100 of the latest model of the Airbus A320s and A321 on order.
Dubbed the neo — for new engine option — the aircraft family, which includes a long-range version the XLR, is popular, with long lead times for delivery.
The XLR model is capable of flights from Australia well into Asia for flights of eight to nine hours.
With the Jetstar order in place, there would be options for Qantas to get early deliveries.
Boeing is expected to fight hard for the order on pricing but walked away last month from a major deal with the giant low-cost carrier Ryanair over demands for lower pricing.
The US aerospace giant has been very successful in securing large orders for the 737 MAX after its two-year grounding over software problems that resulted in two fatal crashes.
Qantas has had excellent service from its 737-800 fleet and the aircraft is the most reliable in its fleet.