Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

Qantas has finalised its short term fleet plans, confirming it will acquire three Boeing 747-400s from Asian carriers "in the very near future", and ruling out acquiring any new type in the next three years.

Chief executive James Strong says the purchase will be additional to the three new -400s ordered from Boeing for delivery between October next year and April 2000. Qantas will also add a further 767-300 to its outstanding order for two aircraft, will lease a second 747-200 to Fiji flag carrier Air Pacific and sell its four Airbus A300-B4s before the end of the year.

The plan is predicated on forecast annual domestic and international route growth averaging 4% over the three-year period and is partly driven by the need for a fleet reshuffle to provide higher capacity aircraft to cope with slot rationing at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport. The first of the three used 747-400s, an Asiana aircraft, is now in Singapore undergoing heavy maintenance.

Strong will not confirm that the other two aircraft, over which negotiations are "well advanced," would come from Malaysia Airlines, but says the three aircraft were younger than the carrier's average age for the type. After an initial refit before service entry, the three aircraft would then be programmed into Qantas' new fleet-wide 747 refurbishment plan.

Strong says decisions over deployment of newly acquired aircraft "-will await further developments as we review our various route strategies." He adds that "-the current aviation market outlook does not support the use of 300-seat aircraft to increase capacity on our 767 routes, or to introduce more frequent flights on existing 747 routes until early in the next decade. By then, the enhanced Airbus A340-500s and Boeing 777-200Xs will be available."

Source: Flight International