Boeing Dreamliner

BOEING and Qantas have cut a deal that will save the airline group A$3 billion but impact on the international expansion of Jetstar.

The low cost carrier was originally scheduled to receive 15 B787-9, the long-haul version of the Dreamliner aircraft, last August, but the delivery date has now been pushed back to mid-2013 assuming no further delays.

As part of the new arrangements, Qantas has cancelled orders for a further 15 B787-9s worth A$3 billion but at this stage remains committed to buying 50 of the aircraft from Boeing, which has had enormous problems completing its development due to a myriad of reasons including worker unrest, production and supply chain issues. Following the initial Jetstar delivery, Qantas says 15 of the smaller B787-8s “will follow from the fourth quarter of 2014 for Australian domestic operations and to retire the remaining Qantas B767-300 fleet.

“Remaining deliveries of 20 B787-9s for both Qantas and Jetsar international operations take place from the fourth quarter of 2015 through to 2017.”

Qantas also has options on 50 more of the troubled aircraft, which have sold extremely well (more than 800 orders) on Boeing’s promise of greater fuel efficiency. However, this is a promise on which Boeing has literally been unable to deliver. The first flight was supposed to have happened two years ago, but continuing delays mean it has not yet left the ground.

Further delays to the Dreamliner’s maiden flight were announced this week.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce said this had nothing to do with the fresh agreement with Boeing.

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said the Dreamliner delivery delays had forced the carrier to adjust its international strategy.

“We’ve had a contingency plan in place for the past couple of years,” Westaway said.

This has revolved around using a fleet of six A330-200 from Airbus to serve international destinations, with a seventh on the way.

Jetsar now flies to 11 internation destinations from Darwin, Perth, Sydney, Cairns, Gold Coast and Melbourne.

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