MIAMI – Qantas (QF) chooses Airbus A320neo and A220 families as the preferred aircraft for the long-term renewal of its domestic narrow-body fleet.

Following discussions with staff on operating arrangements for the new aircraft types and a final decision by the Qantas Board, a definitive commitment for 40 aircraft – 20 A321XLR (extra long-range) and 20 A220 aircraft – is planned to be placed with Airbus by the end of FY22.

As its existing Boeing 737-800s and 717s are being phased down, QF will have a total of 94 purchase-right options on aircraft over a 10-plus year delivery window.

The order comes on top of Jetstar’s current arrangement with Airbus for over 100 A320neo aircraft. This new agreement includes combining these two orders so that the Group can draw down on a total of 299 deliveries across the A320 and A220 families as needed for Qantas, QantasLink, and Jetstar over the next decade and beyond.

This will be the biggest aircraft order in Australian aviation history once completed.

The airline says in a press release that the deal’s financial details are commercially confidential, but that it represents significant savings above list rates.

The airline’s engineering, flight operations, customer experience, network, fleet procurement, and financial teams conducted a thorough evaluation prior to today’s announcement. The A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX families, as well as the smaller A220 and Embraer E190/195-E2s, were all thoroughly evaluated by the airline.

Airbus A321neoXLR. Render: Airbus

Selected Aircraft

The initial firm order focuses on the single-aisle A321XLR and the mid-size A220-300, with purchase-right options for the smaller A220-100, providing Qantas with a fleet mix that potentially delivers superior network options and route economics.

The XLR has a capacity of roughly 15% more people per flight than the airline’s existing B737-800s, making it ideal for crowded flights between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Because of its longer range, it can also be utilized to connect new city pairs.

The A220s are small and medium-sized aircraft that allow the Group to deploy them across most of its domestic and regional operations. They could be used to enhance frequency between large cities and on essential regional routes during off-peak times.

Both aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, which will save between 15-20% on fuel and contribute to the airline’s overall pollution reduction initiatives.

Aircraft Specs

Airbus A320 family

  • Includes the Airbus A320neo and A321neo
  • A320neo seats – from 150 to 180 for a two-class configuration. 6,300km range
  • A321neo seats – from 180 to 220 for a two-class configuration. 7,400km range
  • A321XLR seats – from 180 to 220 for a two-class configuration. 8,700km range
  • The A320neo family offers fuel improvements of 14 per cent from A320ceos
  • 50 per cent quieter than the A320ceos
  • Pratt & Whitney GTF (PW1100G-JM) engines

Airbus A220

  • Specifically designed for the 100-150 seat market
  • More than 20 per cent lower fuel burn per seat than B717s, half the noise footprint, and decreased emissions
  • Up to 6,390km range
  • Pratt & Whitney GTF (PW1500G) engines
Project Winton

Comments from Qantas CEO

The fleet overhaul, called Project Winton – named after the town where Qantas Domestic was founded 101 years ago – is a significant strategic choice for the future of Qantas Domestic, according to Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

“This is a long-term renewal plan with deliveries and payments spread over the next decade and beyond, but the similarly long lead time for aircraft orders means we need to make these decisions now…Qantas is in a position to make these commitments because of the way we’ve navigated through the pandemic, which is a credit to the whole organization.”

“This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future and we’ve locked in pricing just ahead of what’s likely to be a big uptick in demand for next-generation narrow-body aircraft. That’s good news for our customers, our people, and our shareholders.”

“Can (sic) I thank Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and the engine manufacturers for the efforts they put into this process. This was a very tough choice to make. Each option delivered on our core requirements around safety, capability, and emissions reductions. But when you multiply even small benefits in areas like range or cost across this many aircraft and over the 20 years they’ll be in the fleet, Airbus was the right choice as the preferred tenderer.”

“The Airbus deal had the added advantage of providing ongoing flexibility within the order, meaning we can continue to choose between the entire A320neo and A220 families depending on our changing needs in the years ahead. The ability to combine the Jetstar and Qantas order for the A320 type was also a factor.”

Featured image: Airbus A220-300. Render: Airbus