Qantas asserts that it can renew its entire fleet and keep within its capital expenditure guidance, and admittied that it is evaluating new narrowbody and regional jets.

Defending the airline against a February report by S&P Global Ratings that raised concern that the carrier may have to strongly increase its capital spending to replace its fleet as its fleet ages, chief financial officer Tino La Spina repeated his assertion that the claim was “patently not true.”

“We have said we think we can replace the entire fleet and remain competitive and not in any year exceed capex of $2 billion,” he adds.

For the year to 30 June 2019, it forecasts net capital expenditure of only A$1 billion. The carrier also noted that its net debt of A$4.9 billion was “below the bottom of the target range.”

Much of the focus on Qantas’s fleet replacement has been on its ‘Project Sunrise’ requirement - aimed at acquiring an aircraft to fly nonstop from Australia’s east coast to the US east coast and Europe.

Nonetheless, it disclosed in an investor presentation that it has been evaluating new generation narrowbodies and smaller jets for its future fleet needs.

Boeing’s 737 Max and New Mid-market Airplane (or "797"), and Airbus’s A321LR and proposed longer-ranging A321XLR are shown as ‘under evaluation’, as is the A220 and Embraer E2.

Joyce has previously said that the carrier is interested in the NMA as a potential replacement for its 75 737-800s, but also had to consider the A321neo and potential for the 737 Max.

Qantas already has orders for 99 A320neo family aircraft in place, the first 18 of which will be A321neos bound for budget unit Jetstar. They will replace baseline A320s in that carrier’s fleet, and supplant its 11 787-8s on some routes to Asia.

It is the first time that the carrier has admitted to evaluating aircraft in the under-150 seat segment. At present, it operates 20 717s and 17 Fokker 100s under the QantasLink brand, on a mix of scheduled and charter services.

Earlier this year, the carrier disclosed that it will retire its 10 remaining 747-400s by 2020, while also converting options for six more 787-9s.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows it has six 787-9s in service, and eight more on order.

Source: Cirium Dashboard