By Winston Shek
Qantas Advances Return of A380, Resumes Boeing 787 Deliveries
Amid an expected surge in international demand from Australia, Qantas is accelerating the return of its flagship Airbus A380 to the end of March 2022 on its Sydney to Los Angeles route. In addition, the Sydney-based carrier revealed an array of resumptions to destinations in Asia and Oceania and a new connection to Delhi, India.
Initially, during the pandemic’s onset, Qantas Airways grounded the Airbus A380 with a scheduled return date of 2023. However, as Covid-19 vaccination rates began rising in Australia, the Sydney-based carrier announced the initial acceleration of the Airbus A380 return date to July 2022 for flights to Sydney to Los Angeles, with the resumption of Airbus A380 service on its London to Sydney services via Singapore by November 2022.
From March 27, Qantas Airways will place its Airbus A380 six times a week on its daily flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. Its frequencies on Tuesdays will operate on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. To accommodate this schedule change, the flag carrier of Australia plans to reinstate two of its Airbus A380s from storage in Victorville, California. One of these aircraft could arrive in Sydney by the end of December to assist crew training efforts.
In a statement, Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, states, “Our customers and crew love flying on our flagship A380s, so news that they are will be back flying to Los Angeles again from April next year will be very welcome. The Federal Government’s support to ensure our aircraft and people are ready to resume once borders reopen has been critical.”
Moreover, an additional three Airbus A380s are scheduled to join the operation from mid-November 2022, and the remaining five Airbus A380s are slated to join its operation by early 2024. Qantas Airways will operate a total of 10 Airbus A380s, retiring two of the type earlier this year. During the aircraft’s time in storage, all Airbus A380s completed a multi-million dollar retrofit, which includes a new business class cabin and an expanded premium economy cabin, which was previously available on six of its 12 Airbus A380s pre-pandemic.
In addition, Qantas Airways is eyeing the resumption of deliveries for three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in storage, allowing for these aircraft to enter service several months ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, low-cost carrier subsidiary, Jetstar Australia, is removing all of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners from storage in Alice Springs, Australia.
Last week, Qantas Airways announced the acceleration of the resumption of its services from Sydney to Los Angeles and London – via Darwin, Australia – with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Nov. 1. Now, the flag carrier of Australia will accelerate the resumption of its services to Singapore, Fiji, Thailand and South Africa.
Specifically, Qantas’ thrice-weekly Airbus A330 services to Singapore will resume four weeks ahead of schedule on Nov. 23, with daily services by Dec. 18. Additionally, its low-cost carrier subsidiary, Jetstar Australia, will resume flights from Darwin and Melbourne to Singapore by mid-December.
Meanwhile, flights to Fiji will resume from Dec. 7, from a previous resumption date of December 19, 2021, with four weekly Boeing 737 services and additional supplemental services from Jetstar resuming mid-December. The Qantas Group plans to resume flights to Bangkok around mid-January, three months ahead of schedule, with Qantas’ five weekly Airbus A330 flights, in addition to the resumption of flights to Phuket via Jetstar’s thrice-weekly Boeing 787-8 service. Qantas’ flight to Johannesburg on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will see it resume three months earlier than scheduled, with three weekly flights.
“While these flights will initially be for Australians and their families, we expect tourists from Singapore, South Africa and India to take advantage of these flights once borders reopen to international visitors, which is great news for the industry,” Joyce added.
In addition to resumptions, Qantas Airways plans to operate a Sydney-Darwin-Delhi-Sydney service on its Airbus A330-200 from Dec. 6, increasing to daily flights by Jan. 3. These flights are subject to Indian government approval and will be reevaluated, for continuation after the southern summer season — the end of March 2022. Pre-pandemic, Air India operated a nonstop flight between Delhi and Sydney, but these flights are currently suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the reopening of the Victoria province — in which Melbourne is located — for vaccinated travelers, Qantas and Jetstar will bolster capacity between Sydney and Melbourne, offering up to 18 return flights a day and up to 35 return flights a day during the Christmas season.
In addition, Qantas and Jetstar will reinstate all of their 11,000 Australia-based employees, including 5000 linked to domestic operations and 6000 linked to international operations. In total, 22,000 employees will be able to return to work by the end of 2021, pushing ahead of schedule by six months.