Qantas will bring forward plans to retire some Boeing 747 aircraft and defer deliveries of Airbus A380s, A320s and 787s as part of its A$2 billion ($1.8 billion) three year cost cutting plan.

“To reach A$2 billion in cost cuts over three years, we have to work our assets harder, become more productive, retire older aircraft, and make sure that our fleet and network are the right size,” says Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. “We must defer growth and cut back where we can, so that we can invest where we need to."

As a result, the airline will accelerate the retirement of 747-400s, with the aircraft to exit the fleet by the end of 2015. That will leave it with nine 747s, including six -400ERs that are used on services to Santiago and Dallas-Fort Worth.

To facilitate the retirement of those 747s, Qantas will transfer some A330-200s from its Jetstar longhaul and domestic businesses to the international operation.

Qantas will also retire the last of its 767-300ERs by the third quarter of the 2015 financial year. This follows the retirement of its last 737-400 earlier this month. As a result, the domestic mainline fleet will be simplified to two types - A330s and 737-800s. It will also look to increase its domestic fleet utilisation over the coming years.

The airline will also defer delivery of the final eight A380s that were due between 2016 and 2021. It says that there will be an “ongoing review of delivery dates to meet potential future requirements.”

It will also defer delivery of the three final 787-8s that are on order for its budget unit Jetstar. The low cost unit's A320 order book will also be “restructured”, but Qantas provided no further details.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database shows that the Qantas group has 133 aircraft on firm order, including 108 A320s (including 78 neo variants), 11 787s and five 737-800s.

Qantas adds that around 30% of its fleet is currently unencumbered, with 20 aircraft set to become debt-free by the end June this year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard