Qantas fleet decisions

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by maninblack, Sep 15, 2006.

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  1. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

    Aug 14, 2006
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    Discussions in another thread have left me to ponder some of the decisions made by the Qantas "brains trust" up in Sydney regarding fleet purchases in recent years.

    For example why a mixed bag of A330-200/300 which have left QF in a mess on long haul routes rather than a simple plan of say all A340/300 or even 500 which would have given them total flexibility to service routes which may not justify 744's such as SYD-BOM/SFO/JNB/HNL/PEK/MNL Japan, Korea etc, BNE-LAX, AKL-LAX, SIN-FRA or any expansion routes into Europe or Asia. These aircraft could swing into service on seasonal routes and still do other routes like PER-SIN, MEL-AKL-LAX, MEL-NRT/HKG/BKK etc.

    Was it just dollars or was it the problems caused by Australian Airlines? Or was it just failing to realise that Australia is a long way from anywhere, which would be a strange thing for Qantas to forget :!:
     

  2. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

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    My understanding is that the Airbuses in the Qantas fleet were a super sweetener to go with the A380. Hence posisbly limited choice of what they could buy at their super cheap rate.

    I think the delay in the A380 has cost them dearly by not allowing them to turn over some of their planes and expand routes like they want to.
     
  3. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

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    If that's so then it's no way to run a business. You don't buy something you don't need just because it is on sale. Also relying on timely delivery of the A380 would seem to be a risky decision too.
     
  4. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

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    I wouldn't mind betting that some of the decisions are swayed by graft. :shock:
     
  5. oz_mark

    oz_mark Enthusiast

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    Bear in mind that fleet decisions are made with a lengthy lead time, and there is always a degree of risk that a decision made two or three years ago, will not always look wise as market conditions change, the global economy goes through its cycles and so on. Fleet decisions are based on factors known at the time, and with some sort of feel for what is likely to happen in the future. It would be quite difficult to get these things completely right.

    As for Australian Airlines, it was a product of the competitive environment that Qantas found itself in at the time. I would suggest that it has not been the complete failure that people say it has.
     
  6. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

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    Right, lead times are fairly long and conditions change. But given that Qantas is largely a long-haul airline why not purchase aircraft that give you maximum operating flexibility, not aircraft that are too big for short haul services and have a limited operating range for long-haul. Looking to the future and making good decisions is the mark of a sucessful business.
     
  7. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    Ah but what if it is the difference between having a/c and not? Being able to offer new routes vs sitting back while competitors keep nipping at the heels. Some of these discounts can be extremely significant.
     
  8. NM

    NM
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    Assuming you are referring to the A330 acquisition, I think it is important to understand the context of that decision. Its pretty well known that Qantas was offered these aircraft at a significant discount as a sweetener for them committing to the A380. Qantas wanted the A380 and so sought to get the best deal they could. That deal came with an offer for A330 discounts, and that QF has a need for additional capacity in the 250-350 seat capacity size.

    My understanding now is the QF are very happy with the A330-300 for the routes it operates, and they would really like more of these on hand right now. So I don't think we can consider the combination of bargain price and operating mission as being anything but a successful strategy by Qantas.

    The only negative side was the A330-200s that they hoped to use on the main east coast trunk routes to provide additional capacity over the 767 in a similar way to how TN used to operate their A300 aircraft, but they found the schedule challenges with this operation. So they have found an ideal new roll for these aircraft in their move to JetStar International.

    So at the time of ordering the A330, there was no better option available to them when we consider the combination of purchase price and target mission.

    Then Qantas needed to identify a replacement for the 767-300 and 747-300 aircraft. QF's fleet plans have always included operating new aircraft types for long periods, so they wanted an aircraft type that would be economical to operate for the next 20 years. And the current Airbus and Boeing products were not going to meet that goal. So the A340 was not going to fit into the long-term fleet requirement for medium and long-haul international ops. Hence they had no real option but to wait for the next generation of aircraft, being the 787 and A350, and at the time of needing to make a commitment, the A350 was just a re-dressed A330 (before the newly announced A350XWB), so the 787 was the only logical choice. But of course they have to wait for it.

    So committing to something else before the 787 is available would mean they would have to maintain yet another aircraft type (such as A340) and all of the associated costs that go with such a decision. And they would be stuck with relatively new aircraft that are significantly less efficient than the next generation under development. Its a quantum step between A340 and 787 in terms of operating cost and efficiency.

    I think the fleet decisions have been as good as anyone could make at the times they were made. Yes, perhaps they should have ordered the A330-200s with the strengthened floors, but moving them to JQ overcomes this limitation.

    But the 763's could do with some cabin overhaul. However, that is likely to have to wait a little while as they don't have the spare capacity right now to undertake such a program and that situation won't improve any time soon.

    So in my opinion, Qantas has demonstrated what you call the mark of a successful business as far as its fleet decisions are concerned.
     
  9. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

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    Do you think they will at all? I assumed they'd just leave them as they are until they are replaced by the 787's.
     
  10. NM

    NM
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    Given that the capacity issues won't be properly addressed until the 787s appear, and that is also when the 763s will start to retiire, I do not hold much hope for any major upgrade of the 763 cabins. And as the 787s arrive, the 763s will be progressively moved onto domestic and trans-Tasman ops, most likely in "domestic" config. So again, not much chance of seeing the Dreamtime IFE upgrade nor Y IFE upgrades. Think back to the old 762s just before their retirement :-| .
     
  11. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

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    NM.

    I think you are being very kind. The A330-200 was a mistake and the A330-300 cannot fulfil a number of routes properly such as SYD-BOM which requires a fuel stop and MEL-NRT and SYD-PEK which will fly on restricted payload, there are probably others too. If they had just bought A340 instead then they would not have had these problems and they could also use them on longer lower capacity routes which are currently stretching the 744 fleet.

    And yes I agree. 763's won't get an upgrade...at least I doubt it, maybe replacement fabric on j class seats!
     
  12. NM

    NM
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    If they bought the A340 instead of the A330, their operating costs for almost all of the routes operated by the A330 would have been significantly higher.

    And anything they purchased at that time would have to fit into their fleet for a long time, and Qantas seems to like to operate their aircraft for around 20 years. So I think its better to operate one route with a one-way tech stop rather than invest in the costs of integrating a new aircraft type into their fleet. The A340 is not cheap to operate, and the Boeing 777 may be a better option for the 300-350 seat long-haul ops. But in the longer term these routes will be handled by the 787 at even greater efficiency levels.

    The only current A330-300 route that is a range problem is SYD-BOM (BOM-SYD is ok) and there is no non-stop competition on that route. QF used to operate the 747-300 on that route to undertake non-stop ops in both directions, and if they had enough demand for seats I am sure they would love to go back to the 743 and free up the A333 for other routes.

    The A330-300 is ideally suited to routes like BNE-SIN, BNE-HKG, PER-SIN, PER-HKG, PER-NRT, MEL-NET etc. Those routes would not be well suited to A340 due to its higher operating costs over those distances.

    According to Airbus, the max operating range of the A330-300 with full passenger load is 5650nm, or 6500 miles. MEL-NRT is 5060 miles, so no problem for a full passenger load on A330. SYD-PEK is 5552 miles, so again should not be a problem for a full pax load on A330-300. Now there may be a difference between max pax load and max takeoff weight. So the operator may choose to limit the passenger load and carry extra freight, but that is the operator's choice.

    Also note that QF only operates MEL-NRT non-stop 3 times per week, so their capacity demand is unlikely to be causing them any range problems either.

    And why do you say the A330-200 was a mistake? What do you suggest would have been a better choice for high capacity domestic operations at the time they bought the A332? The only other viable choice at the time was more 767-300ER or the 767-400. The A330-200s were purchased for domestic ops to free up 763s for AO and QF international ops.

    QF may not have been content with the A330-200 turnaround time for the high density east coast domestic operations. But that does not mean they are unhappy with the aircraft overall. They found it to be a good aircraft for the longer domestic ops (to/from PER) where the capacity requirement is suited to the size of the aircraft. And they will be ideally suited to the proposed JQ International operations until the 787s arrive.

    In hindsight, I can't see that there was a better option for QF at the time than the mix of A333 and A332. I think they would have liked to be in a position to have purchased more, especially of the A333. They didn't need the extra range of the A340 (nor the extra operating costs), and the Boeing alternative (777) was very expensive compared with the sale price QF was offered and would have been too big for domestic ops.
     
  13. maninblack

    maninblack Established Member

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    Fair enough, i would say that your points are well put...don't agree entirely but no need to debate it ad-nauseum.

    And still no in-seat power in domestic J class :evil:
     
  14. NM

    NM
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    Nor in any Y cabin. At least some airlines provide it at some seats in Y. I don't use in-seat power very often, but when you need it, you need it!
     
  15. jakeseven7

    jakeseven7 Active Member

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    Have read all this with interest and it seems that their fleet decisions have been good considering the difficult circumstances.

    On the flip side (airline profitability etc out the window) as a consumer, I'm a big fan of having a range of aircraft to choose from, makes it a bit more exciting. And all I can say is thank god Qantas stayed away from those 777s.
     
  16. NM

    NM
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    perhaps JQ could find a way to get 11 across seating in a 777 :shock: .
     
  17. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

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    Don't even joke about it. Some bean counter is probably rubbing their hands together at the thought.
     
  18. jakeseven7

    jakeseven7 Active Member

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    #18 jakeseven7, Sep 16, 2006
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2006
    Haha maybe!

    Or maybe DJ will launch their US services with a recordbreaking 12 across, and 2 above (strapped lying down between roof and luggage bins)!

    *Note the above is a joke for the benefit of the below post who thinks this is unlikely...(you THINK!?)
     
  19. N860CR

    N860CR Established Member

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    Last I heard DJ offered the most room of any of the 3 big domestic carriers... so that's probably unlikely.
     
  20. Standby

    Standby Active Member

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    The A330 purchase was a sweetner to taking the A380 but it was a very clear message to Boeing to stop taking ongoing purchases for granted.
    Boeings..."we wont talk price" changed markedly with the A330s for QF and A320s for JQ. many of the issues around the A330 is the limitation of the Sydney dom terminal and the small number of gates that can fit A330/747's.
    The 767 can be turned around in 45 mins. the extra 50 people on and off the A330 take it up to 1hr so the Dom opration loses at least 1 sector per day which adds significantly to costs increases through lower utilization..Its very fortunate they provide everything QF needs for Perth (38 J seats vs max 30 on 767) plenty of freight room and an extra 50 odd seats . the A330-200 (havent actually travelled on a 300) is the quietest cabin of any aircraft flying in OZ today..I havent had the IFE Sh*t itself for a while either
    Either way the move of the A330-200 to jetstar means the 747-300s are gonna be on PER til the 787s arrive
     
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