A firm commitment for 40 aircraft – 20 A321XLR and 20 A220 aircraft – is expected to be placed with Airbus by the end of FY22. Once finalised, this will represent the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation history.
Qantas will also have a further 94 purchase right options on aircraft over a 10-plus year delivery window as its existing Boeing 737-800s and 717s are gradually phased out. The order is in addition to Jetstar’s existing agreement with Airbus for over 100 aircraft in the A320neo family. Part of this new deal includes combining these two orders so that the Group can draw down on a total of 299 deliveries across both the A320 and A220 families as needed over the next decade and beyond for Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar.
Thursday’s announcement follows a detailed review by the airline’s engineering, flight operations, customer experience, network, fleet procurement and finance teams. The airline conducted detailed evaluation of the A320neo and B737 MAX families as well as the smaller A220 and Embraer E190/195-E2s.
The initial firm order concentrates on the larger, single-aisle A321XLR, and the mid-size A220-300 with purchase right options for the smaller A220-100, giving Qantas a fleet mix that can deliver better network choices and route economics. The XLR can carry around 15 per cent more passengers on each flight than the airline’s existing B737-800s, making it well suited to busy routes between capital cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Its longer range means it can also be used to open up new city pairs.
The small and medium size A220s provide the Group with flexibility to deploy these aircraft throughout most of its domestic and regional operations. They could be used during off peak times between major cities and on key regional routes to increase frequency. Both aircraft types will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines and will deliver fuel savings of between 15-20 per cent, contributing to the airline’s broader emission reduction efforts.