Qantas sticks to plans for 767 fleet despite deferring 787s

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Qantas Airways, Australia's national carrier, will retire four Boeing 767-300ER aircraft in 2010 and maintain the size of its remaining fleet despite cancelling some Boeing 787 orders and delaying the delivery of others on Friday.

The oneworld alliance member has 29 767-300ERs that it uses on domestic trunk routes on Australia's East cost. It had planned to retire more of them from around 2012, but that has been put on hold as it will now only start to receive its 15 new 787-8s from the fourth quarter of 2014.

Delaying the delivery of its 787-8s, however, will help it to keep to the plans that it announced earlier this year to cut capacity and park older aircraft as demand for air travel falls in line with the global economic recession.

"We are sticking to plans to retire four 767s next year, and it looks like we will keep the remaining 767s longer than we planned," says a Qantas spokesman. "However, we have no plans yet to add new aircraft to the fleet because of the delays to the 787."

Qantas said on Friday that it had cancelled orders for 15 Boeing 787-9s and deferred the delivery of 15 787-8s to reduce capital expenditure. It remains the biggest customer for the aircraft with firm orders for 35 787-9s and 15 787-8s, and options for another 50 aircraft.

This is the first major cancellation for the next generation medium-range widebody, and comes days after Boeing announced another delay to the first flight of the aircraft due to design issues. Qantas, however, says that its decision is not related to the delay.

Under the new delivery schedule, its first 15 aircraft, 787-9s meant for Jetstar's international operations, will be delivered from mid-2013. Jetstar was originally due to take delivery of 15 smaller 787-8s in mid-2010.

The 15 787-8s meant for Qantas' domestic operations will follow over the 12 months from the fourth quarter of 2014. The final deliveries of 20 787-9s for both Qantas and Jetstar international operations will take place from the fourth quarter of 2015.