Qantas no closer to firming 787 options

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Qantas is in no rush to firm up its options for up to 50 Boeing 787s, preferring instead to keep a flexible outlook on its future fleet requirements.

Chief executive Alan Joyce told reporters at a media conference on 29 August that the carrier has not yet decided if it will exercise 787 options for delivery in 2016, and that it can wait longer on other slots that are available towards the end of the decade.

"Our view is that we maintain complete flexibility on those aircraft," he says. "These decisions can be made on an aircraft by aircraft basis dependent on where we are."

Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that Qantas holds options on 13 787s that could be delivered in 2016, while its options on the type go out to 2019.

"With the volatility that we see, you want to have that flexibility you don't want to be making commitment on aircraft given the amount of uncertainty that is out there," he adds.

Last year, Qantas restructured its orders for the type to only 14 787-8s and options for 50 others to cut down its capital expenditure.

Joyce says that the airline had originally planned to make A$3.5 billion ($3.1 billion) in capital investment for new aircraft this financial year, but "we have been able to get that down, through working with flexibility with the manufacturers to A$1.5bn".

"We will make sure that the capital commitments and the investment that we make fit our size and are appropriate to the environment that we are operating in," he adds.

Qantas's budget subsidiary Jetstar will take delivery of its first 787-8 in September, and plans to have an in-service fleet of six by the end of June 2014. The type will replace the Airbus A330-200s used on its long-haul services. Subsequently, these A330-200s will return to Qantas's fleet and in turn replace the Boeing 767-300s that will be retired.

Qantas has announced that it will refurbish the cabins on all of its A330s from the end of 2014, with the aircraft to gain new lie-flat business class seating in a four-abreast configuration. The aircraft will also be fitted with new Panasonic in-flight entertainment systems and the Q-Streaming system that will allow passengers to stream content to their own portable electronic devices.

To the end of June 2014, the Qantas group will take delivery of 26 new aircraft, and has plans to remove 15 aircraft from its fleet - comprising two 747-400s, six 737-400s and seven 767-300s - as well as five leased Airbus A320s.