Boeing’s stretched 787-9 variant has been formally launched following Qantas’ decision to order up to 115 787 family aircraft over the competing Airbus A350-800/900 for its mainline operations as well as for its Jetstar low-cost subsidiary.
An expected long-range aircraft order, which pitched the Airbus A340-500/600 against the 777-200LR/300ER, did not materialise. Although this had been widely tipped to happen at the same time as the 787 deal, the airline is thought to have issued an ambitious new set of requirements for longer-range routes, including Sydney-London direct, as well as others such as Dallas-Sydney. Both Airbus and Boeing are expected to renew talks with Qantas over possible solutions early in January 2006.
The initial 787 order covers a mix of up to 45 firm -8s and -9s, with the latter due to enter service in 2011. The deal also includes 20 options plus purchase rights on a further 50 aircraft. The initial -8s for Jetstar will be among the first examples of the aircraft to enter airline service, with deliveries in 2008.
The order takes slots for aircraft originally reserved by Qatar Airways, and will be the first application of the 787 on long-range routes by a low-cost carrier. Qantas is due to take its first dedicated 787-8 in July 2009 and a total of 28 787s will be in service with the two carriers by December 2011.
The contest to power the Qantas/Jetstar aircraft is expected to start between General Electric and Rolls-Royce in January.