Qantas transfers its national fleet to Airbus at the expense of Boeing

  • Will purchase 20 A321XLR and 20 A220-300 jets
  • To replace the aging fleet of 737 and 717
  • Selects Pratt & Whitney engines

SYDNEY, Dec. 16 (Reuters) – Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) on Thursday selected Airbus (AIR.PA) as its preferred supplier to replace its national fleet, replacing Boeing (BA.N) in a major victory for the European aircraft manufacturer that also triggered a disruption in engine supplies.

Australia’s national carrier said it had pledged to buy 20 Airbus A321XLR jets and 20 A220-300 jets, as well as options on 94 planes, pushing shares of France-based Airbus up 3% at the start. European exchanges.

“This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future and we have set the prices ahead of what is likely to be a sharp increase in demand for next generation narrow-body aircraft,” said the managing director. from Qantas, Alan Joyce.

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Qantas is the latest airline to join a growing race for efficient medium-haul jets as carriers look beyond the pandemic to cut fuel costs and meet emissions targets.

The deal is subject to board approval, expected by June 2022 after negotiations with the pilots.

Deliveries would begin in mid-2023 and continue over 10 years to replace an aging fleet of 75 Boeing 737s and 20,717s.

The victory crowns a successful week for Airbus after Singapore Airlines agreed to launch the A350 cargo plane on Wednesday and the aircraft manufacturer looks set to grab a narrow-body order from KLM, in what could become the second defection in 24 hours .

For Boeing, the loss of Qantas’ coveted contract, first reported by Bloomberg News, is yet another blow to its 737 MAX.

This interrupts a solid string of sales since the jet was cleared for flight at the end of last year following a safety ban and means a further loss of narrow-body market share for Airbus.

Qantas has operated Boeing aircraft since 1959 and was once the only airline in the world with a fleet of 747. The US aircraft manufacturer will now supply only its 787 long-haul Dreamliners.

A crew member exits a Qantas aircraft at a domestic terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, November 16, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

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Joyce said he was not worried his airline was too dependent on Airbus.

“I’m sure Boeing will be very, very aggressive in maintaining its relationship with us, which is important with the 787s, when other competitions come up,” he told reporters.

Joyce said the ability to combine Qantas’ narrow-body order with one already placed by low-cost branch Jetstar for more than 100 A320neos was one of the main strengths of the Airbus deal.

The world’s third-oldest airline has been the scene of epic battles in the global aircraft duopoly, including a hotly contested 2005 head-to-head between the 787 and the A350, which went to Boeing and a prompted Airbus to tear up its original design.

The latest competition sparked a double defection as Qantas also switched to US engine maker Pratt & Whitney (RTX.N).

Qantas plans to order engines from subsidiary Raytheon Technology for the new batch of Airbus A320neo family jets, having chosen CFM International engines from GE (GE.N) and Safran (SAF.PA) for much of the order. Jetstar.

“Pratt & Whitney gave us the best arrangements,” Joyce said. “We believe that since the two airlines will have a large amount of aircraft, there are no mixed fleet issues.”

CFM’s engines are available on both Boeings and narrow-body Airbuses, which means there is less incentive to participate in aggressive bids to help influence aircraft choice, analysts say.

Qantas is separately studying the A350 wide-body aircraft capable of making the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London. A decision on the “Sunrise Project” is expected next year.

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Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney, Tim Hepher in Paris and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Peter Cooney, Richard Pullin, Elaine Hardcastle

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