By Mike Cherney
SYDNEY–Australia’s biggest airline, Qantas Airways Ltd., said it would order dozens of planes from European manufacturer Airbus SE, including new aircraft to fly non-stop between Australia and the U.S. and the U.K.
Qantas said non-stop flights between Australia and the U.S. and the U.K., dubbed Project Sunrise, would start from late 2025. The airline said the flights will build on the success of existing direct long-haul services, demand for which has increased following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The board’s decision to approve what is the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the Qantas Group,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said.
Qantas said it is ordering 12 Airbus A350-1000s for its Project Sunrise flights. In addition, the airline said it is ordering 40 A321XLRs and A220 aircraft for its domestic fleet, as well as 94 purchase-order options that will spread over at least a decade. Those planes will replace aging Boeing 737s and 717s, Qantas said.
Combined with an existing order for its budget airline Jetstar, Qantas said its total group order with Airbus now includes 299 planes, half of which are direct orders and half of which are purchase-right options.
Qantas also said Monday that domestic travel is returning to pre-Covid levels ahead of expectations. It said there is strong demand for international travel, but that some key markets are not yet open.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax and other items, or Ebitda, is expected to be between 450 million Australian dollars (US$318 million) and A$550 million in the second half of fiscal 2022, the airline said.
Qantas did not disclose the cost of the Airbus order, but said a significant discount from the standard price should be assumed.
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