Qantas pushes Boeing on 787-10 stretch

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Qantas is pressing Boeing to commit to developing the proposed 787-10 "double stretch", as the airline evaluates its long-term widebody needs.

Speaking at the airline's A380 delivery event in Toulouse on 19 September, Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon and his successor designate Alan Joyce revealed that the airline was in "the early stage of talks" with Boeing on the 787-10 as well as with Airbus about the A350 XWB.

The 787-10 is a proposed stretched version of the -9, seating around 300 passengers, making it similar in size to the -200 variants of the 777. Joyce, who was named as Dixon's successor in July, considers the 787-10 to be "a requirement", but acknowledges that Boeing is "not there yet".

 
 © Boeing

However, the airframer is looking to push the Australian carrier towards the 777-300ER, although Dixon indicates that this plan is unlikely to be successful. He says that the 777-300ER is not a player in Qantas's plans, although he acknowledges that it "is a player in Boeing's view of what our planning should be".

Qantas has instead focused its fleet strategy on what Joyce terms "step-change aircraft" such as the 787 and the A380, which is pitched as offering a 25% increase in efficiency and 20% lower maintenance costs.

Unless Boeing accedes to demands for a 787-10, Qantas is likely to place an order for the A350, with Dixon saying that it talks with Airbus on the twinjet are under way.

The 787-10 issue is not top of Qantas's agenda in talks with Boeing, with the possibility of further delays to the 787-8 and -9 due to the machinists' strike being a more pressing concern.

As the 787 is intended as "a growth aircraft" rather than a replacement one, further delays would not create a need for interim lift at Qantas. However, they would slow growth at a carrier that has benefited from the commodities boom and the relative strength of its domestic economy.