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Qantas ‘looking forward’ to firming 787-9 options

Qantas could soon exercise options for some Boeing 787-9s for delivery from 2017 if its international business rebounds to profitability in the coming years.

Qantas first ordered 787s in 2006, but in 2013 it converted most of the order into 50 options that gave it delivery positions from 2016 onwards. The airline still retained orders for 14 787-8s that are bound for budget unit Jetstar.

“Those 50 options and purchase rights still exist,” says chief financial officer Gareth Evans. “We’ve pushed back the first couple of those from 2016 into 2017 and we’re very much looking forward to exercising those options and bringing those aircraft into the Qantas fleet.”

“We’ve got to get through the transformation of the business first and drive the international business into profitability, and we’re well on track to do that. Then we will be making the future investment decisions and what we’ve got is a lot of flexibility and some great opportunities to bring some new generation very efficient aircraft into the Qantas fleet,” he adds.

Qantas has long tied the exercise of the 787 options to its troubled international operations returning to profitability, however the unit’s losses have grown in recent years amid strong competition on international routes.

Earlier this year, the airline also delayed delivery of its final eight Airbus A380s until after 2023, “with an ongoing review of delivery dates to meet potential future requirements,” it says.

In the interim, the airline will soon start a cabin refurbishment of its Airbus A330 fleet, including the -300s used primarily on Asian routes. The airline is using the A330s to replace 747-400s on services from Sydney and Brisbane to Singapore as it winds back its 747 fleet to nine aircraft by early 2016.

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