Here we go again! As we alluded to earlier on
Aero-News, both Boeing and Airbus have been awaiting
word on the decision by Australian-based airline Qantas on whose
plane the airline was going to select to add to its growing fleet
-- and how many. Well, the suspense is over, as Qantas announced
Wednesday they have placed 45 firm orders for Boeing's 787
Dreamliner, with options for 20 more and purchase rights for
another 50 aircraft on top of that.
The order, which could net Boeing as much as $14.4 billion, sets
the American aerospace manufacturer firmly ahead in the year-end
race to secure the most aircraft.
While the numbers of actual orders seemingly vary from
day-to-day, source-to-source (causing Associate Editor Rob Finfrock
much confusion in his quest to lock down firm numbers) the Qantas
order should put Boeing ahead of Airbus by approximately 100
aircraft, including options. With just 16 shopping days to go
before the end of the year, that should mean Boeing will have a
lock on the sales crown for 2005.
Representatives with Boeing told Aero-News the Dreamliners will
be used on long-haul routes for both Qanta's mainline operations,
as well as for its low-cost Jetstar subsidiary -- expected to
begin operations with a fleet of Airbus A320s no later than January
2007. The first four Dreamliners will be delivered to Jetstar
roughly one year later, with 27 more in operation with Qantas and
Jetstar by the end of 2011.
"Today, we continue the
program that is setting the airline’s course of the future,"
said Qantas Airways CEO Geoff Dixon. "With our unique geographic
challenges, we need all the advantages we can take to compete
effectively against some of the industry’s toughest. The 787
family will help us provide increased or new services by Qantas and
Jetstar to 15 destinations and to destinations which we cannot
currently profitably serve."
Qantas’ and Jetstar’s airplanes will be split
between the 787-8 (up to 300 seats in Jetstar’s low-cost
configuration) and 787-9 (up to 350 seats).
"Our relationship with Qantas dates to the very start of the jet
age, and we’re thrilled to see that relationship continue
with the 787,” said Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Boeing
Commercial Airplanes. "The 787 is a game-changer for airline
profitability and for passenger comfort. Qantas’ evaluation
was particularly rigorous, and we welcome this endorsement and
opportunity to be part of Qantas’s future."
Boeing now has 354 orders and commitments from 26 customers for
the 787, and close to 800 total orders for all of its aircraft for
While the Boeing order is unwelcome news to Airbus, the European
manufacturing consortium can take some comfort that its A380
"superjumbo" will remain the flagship aircraft for Qantas... when
the first plane is finally delivered in 2007, over one year later
than originally anticipated.
Qantas did not state if that delay, coupled with the two-year
time difference between the Dreamliner's expected intro date and
the first expected delivery date of the rival Airbus A350, had an
impact in the carrier's decision to go with Boeing.