Qantas Airways has given no indication of when it intends to exercise its options for Boeing 787-9s, despite the major improvement in its international business.

The carrier had been tipped to announce the firming of some of the 50 options it has for 787s, at its announcement today of the A$367 million ($289 million) underlying profit for the six months ended 31 December.

The results include positive earnings from Qantas International, which chief executive Alan Joyce had previously set as one of the conditions necessary to exercise the options.

Despite that, he told analysts during a conference call that other conditions still need to be met before the airline orders the aircraft. They include reducing Qantas’s net debt by A$1 billion, getting the international division back to profit over the full year, and establishing the right labour conditions to build the business case for the new airliner.

“Everybody in Qantas wants to see those aircraft coming in, but the aircraft have to make the right returns, have to be brought in under the right conditions and have to be brought in when the balance sheet of Qantas is strong enough to take it,” he says.

Qantas ordered the 787s in 2003, but due to delays with the aircraft and changes in its business conditions, the deal was restructured in 2013 to a firm order for 14 787-8s for Jetstar, and 50 options and purchase rights.

Last year the carrier pushed back some of the options that would have given it delivery slots in 2016. Now it has positions for delivery between 2017 and 2020.

“We’ve got a lot of flexibility in terms of order stream, so there is no pressure on us in terms of timing,” adds chief financial officer Gareth Evans.

Evans is set to take over as chief executive of Qantas International in March, succeeding incumbent Simon Hickey, who will leave the airline.

Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database shows that Qantas also has eight Airbus A380s on order. Those aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2025.

Source: Cirium Dashboard