Qantas bets big on Airbus for future fleet renewal

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Qantas Group has announced several major fleet restructuring that will open a new era in the airline's international and domestic networks over the next decade and beyond, including the approval of Project Sunrise and domestic fleet renewal from late 2023.

As part of Project Winton, which is intended for the renewal of the aging domestic fleet of the Australian flag carrier, Qantas Group has placed firm orders for 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 A220-300s to replace its older generation 95 Boeing 737 and 717 jets. Deliveries of A220s will start in late 2023, and deliveries for A321XLRs will start in late 2024.

The first A321XLRs are expected to join the airline's fleet in late 2023. With this agreement, Qantas also keeps purchase rights for another 94 aircraft of the same type for delivery through to at least 2034.

Qantas’ A321XLR will be configured to accommodate 200 passengers (20 Business, 180 Economy) – a 15 percent increase with no reduction in space between seats. It can fly approximately 3,000km further than the 737 (at 8,700km) and opens up a wider range of direct domestic and short-haul international routes (e.g., South East Asia, Pacific islands).

The A220-300 will be configured to accommodate 137 passengers (10 in Business, 127 in Economy) – a 25 percent increase with no reduction in space between seats. It has almost double the range at over 6,000 kilometers, meaning it can fly between any city in Australia. Both aircraft types will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engines (PW1100G-JM and PW1500G). The noise levels of both aircraft are up to 50 percent lower than the retiring aircraft. On a per-seat basis, the A220-300 burns 28 percent less fuel per passenger than the B717. The A321XLR burns 17 percent less fuel per passenger compared with the B737.

Qantas Group has also ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000 wide-body jets to operate non-stop Project Sunrise flights from eastern Australia to overseas destinations, including New York and London. These routes will be operational by the end of 2025 from Sydney. The deliveries for 12 Airbus A350-1000 for Project Sunrise flights will begin in 2025 and be completed by 2028.

The A350-1000s will be configured to accommodate 238 passengers across four classes (First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy), with more than 40 percent of the cabin dedicated to premium seating. The cabin will also be configured for improved comfort on long flights and will include a well-being zone in the center. The planes will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofan engines which are 25 percent more fuel-efficient than previous generation aircraft.
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