24 October 2013

Virgin Australia and Qantas are the main airlines which could commit on an order for A350 XWB, with no sells in Australia as of today.

The strongest prospect for an A350 order in Australia would be from Virgin Australia, which has been officially open to considering an order for the Airbus or from Boeing’s competing 787 range even before Boeing began to make serious references to going ahead in the near future with its 777-X program, which is widely tipped to be officially launched next month.

The issue that strikes the casual observer of Virgin Australia as ‘obvious’ is that of finance for any new fleet decisions.

However, depending on how the various major partners in Virgin Australia Holdings sort out their potentially overlapping ambitions for the carrier, a solution might be for such a partner to ‘invest’ some of its Airbus or Boeing orders in the growth of Virgin Australia.

On the other hand, Qantas is considering the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X as potential replacements for its ageing fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

In a presentation held in Seattle some weeks ago, ahead of today's delivery flight of Jetstar's first Boeing 787, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce flagged what he called "the next big decisions" on the airline's fleet.

Qantas would seem to be a less likely prospect for the A350 series given its dual commitments to a ‘simplified’ fleet with fewer types, and its access to 787 Dreamliner options, between 2017 and 2020.

It seems that you could get reasonable odds on Airbus ramping up production rates on the A350 in the near future, and that would change the outlook for sales in Australia in a very positive way.

Based on the article “Qantas mulls Airbus A350, Boeing 777X to replace Boeing 747s” published in Australian Business Traveller.

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