LONDON – Qantas has today announced that they will be ordering an additional six Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which will bring its total count to 14 by the end of 2020.

These new orders come after the airline wanting to speed up the phasing out of their 747-400 aircraft, in which the last ten in service will be retired by the end of 2020 also.

The Boeing 747 has been in the Qantas fleet since 1971 and has provided the backbone of service that the Australian carrier has needed to provide the operations that they do today.

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CEO Alan Joyce commented on the new order and also on the retirement of the 747’s:

This really is the end of one era and the start of another. The jumbo has been the backbone of Qantas International for more than 40 years and we’ve flown almost every type that Boeing built. It’s fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020. Over the years, each new version of the 747 allowed Qantas to fly further and improve what we offered passengers. The Dreamliners are now doing the same thing. The 787 has better economics and a longer range, and its already opened up new routes like Perth to London. With a larger fleet of Dreamliners, we’ll be looking at destinations in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe. By the end of 2020, we’ll have farewelled the 747, finished upgrading the cabins of our A380s and welcomed our fourteenth 787. That’s a great proposition for our customers and creates some really exciting opportunities for our people.

On top of today’s order, Qantas will be looking to invest in an additional Boeing 787 simulator which will help increase the capacity of their training capabilities, when it comes to transitioning and training new pilots onto this new aircraft type. This will be added to the Qantas Group Pilot Academy which is set to open by 2019.

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Qantas has said that although the 787-9 carries fewer people than their 747’s, which is 236 seats versus the 364 on the -400 variants, they will be having a far greater focus on Business and Premium Economy seating and will feature the same configurations to enhance the quality of passenger experience.

At the moment, the Australian airline currently has four 787-9’s in their fleet with a further four due to arrive by the end of the year. The additional six announced in today’s order will be delivered between late 2019 and will conclude deliveries in the second half of 2020.

The ten 747-400’s left in the fleet will be steadily retired between July 2018 and the end of 2020, to coincide with the 787-9’s that they receive. The last 747 the carrier delivered was in 2003, so when it is retired, will be aged at around 17 years.