Qantas will place the largest order in its 103-year history tomorrow signing up for over 150 Airbus jets to take the airline towards its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
This afternoon an Airbus A350-1000, adorned with a Qantas logo, with Airbus’s chief commercial officer Christian Scherer aboard, will transit Perth Airport on route to Sydney for the announcement.
The A350-1000, one of the prototypes, registered F-WMIL (below), touched down in Perth at 7.10 pm.
Qantas’s pilots will help fly the A350-1000 from Perth to Sydney.
An Air Baltic Airbus A220-300 is already in Sydney and will be joined by one of Qantas’/Australia Post A321PF Freighters for the order announcement.
The order is for 12, 369-seat A350-1000s ultra-long-range jets, 20, 206-seat A321XLRs and 20, 120-seat A220s plus over 106 purchase right options spread amongst the different types to be supplied over 10 years.
Value at list prices, if all options are taken up is US$24.8 billion ($34b), however, orders of this size attract significant discounts.
It is understood that Qantas was able to lock in lower pricing ahead of the surge in demand for aircraft.
The Airbus jets burn between 20 and 38 per cent less fuel per passenger than the jets they will replace and they will be up to 50 per cent quieter.
The A350-1000 will be capable of flying from the east coast of Australia to London nonstop as well as to New York.
Qantas will also deploy the A350-1000 on the Perth to London route to replace the smaller 787-9 and the Airbus jet will also be able to fly from WA to the west coast of the USA opening up new route possibilities.
While designed for 369 passengers the A350 will only carry about 270 for the ultra-long-range flights and will be the roomiest of any Qantas jet.
According to the insiders, the configuration of the A350 will be four classes and economy passengers will get 34-inch (86.4cm) seat pitch, rather than the normal 31 inches (79cm).
And the economy seats will be wider than those on the 787 and 747.
The Qantas A350 economy seats will be 18 inches (45.7cm) wide – almost an inch (2.54cm) wider than those on the 787.
First class, business class and premium economy will all be “significantly” enhanced with more legroom in premium economy, closer to Air New Zealand’s industry high 42 inches (106.7cm).
Qantas selected the A350-1000 in December 2019 for its Project Sunrise but COVID grounded the order.
At the time Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said “the A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience.”
Last year the airline also held a competition for the shorter range smaller jets to replace its 737-800s and 717s and announced in December, in a massive blow to Boeing, that Airbus was the preferred supplier with its A320 and A220 families of jets.
The A350-1000 will arrive late next year and the smaller jets in 2024.
The huge order is in addition to Qantas’s subsidiary Jetstar’s existing agreement with Airbus for over 100 aircraft in the A320neo family.
Qantas said in December that part of the deal with Airbus is the ability to combine these two orders so that the Group can draw down on a total of 299 deliveries across both the A320 and A220 families as needed over the next decade and beyond for Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar.
The A321neoXLR can carry around 15 per cent more passengers on each flight than the airline’s existing B737-800s while being able to fly much further opening up new route possibilities such as Perth to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.