Qantas sees the prospect of Boeing developing its proposed New Mid-market Airplane (NMA) specifically for short/medium-haul routes as "fantastic" and is working with Seattle to help define the design.
"We're really excited about [NMA]. If they do that it, that's going to be a great aircraft," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told FlightGlobal at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. "It will be a great transcontinental domestic aircraft."
Joyce says that for Qantas to grow high-frequency domestic routes like Brisbane-Sydney, on which it currently has flights every half-hour, it will need a bigger aircraft. "And you don't want an aircraft designed for longer haul like the 787 as they're too heavy. So an aircraft that's particularly designed for domestic [routes] would be fantastic."
This enthusiasm has driven Qantas to assist Boeing with the definition of the NMA, adds Joyce. "We're absolutely talking to Boeing about what our requirements in that space would be. That's a longer-term commitment; it won't be until the mid-20s."
The Qantas group, with its Jetstar subsidiary, is a major customer for the Airbus A320 family and has a large number of commitments for the re-engined A320neo version. Airbus offers an extended-range variant of the A321neo, the A321LR, which is the key competitor to Boeing's proposed NMA.
"Boeing will be clever to put an aircraft in [to the market] because they have to have something that competes against that [the A321LR]," says Joyce.