Qantas to acquire up to 188 narrow body aircraft

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Thursday, 15 November 2007

Qantas is to acquire up to 188 narrow body aircraft to support the further growth of its two brands, Qantas and Jetstar, in Australia and Asia. The aircraft will be used to expand low cost services to South East Asia. The plan will involve Jetstar opening new regional aviation bases in both Darwin and Perth over the next two years to serve the fast growing Asian markets.

 The aircraft will be principally Boeing 737-800s, which are Qantas main narrowbody aircraft, and Airbus A320s, which are the core aircraft in Jetstars short haul fleet.

The order also includes larger A321 aircraft, which will have up to 213 seats compared with 177 on an A320 in a Jetstar single-class configuration, Qantas Chief Executive Mr Geoff Dixon said. The first aircraft to arrive in February next year will be an A321 and we expect to take at least 17 of those aircraft to expand Jetstars opportunities in its fastest growing markets.

The Group will acquire:

- 68 A320/A321 aircraft, plus 40 options and purchase rights; and
- 31 B737-800 aircraft and 49 options and purchase rights.

The firm aircraft will be delivered over a six year period, while options secured additional delivery slots through to 2017.

Mr Dixon said that the group had the ability to fund the aircraft without affecting its investment grade credit rating.

This decision, together with existing A380 and Boeing 787 fleet commitments, secures an order stream for next generation aircraft that will allow the group to meet long term demand growth and replace older aircraft over the next decade, Mr Dixon said.

The plan provides maximum flexibility to respond to changes in the market and competitive situation. In an environment where our customers have more options than ever before, this investment will ensure that Qantas and Jetstar continue to provide customers with superior network reach, choice and product.

The B737-800s will be delivered from early 2009.

The B737-800 has a 25% lower fuel burn per seat and 30% lower maintenance cost compared with older equivalent aircraft. The engines for the new aircraft will have improved technology that exceeds all current environmental regulatory standards in relation to both emissions and noise, Mr Dixon added.

The order comes as Qantas is preparing to receive its first A380, the flagship of the premium fleet, in August 2008, while Jetstar will subsequently launch the B787 Dreamliner to underpin the expansion of its low cost international services.

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