Major blow for Boeing as Qantas orders dozens of new planes from rival Airbus

Qantas has had an almost entirely Boeing fleet until now.
Qantas has had an almost entirely Boeing fleet until now. Photo credit: Qantas

Qantas has delivered a major blow to Boeing's 737 MAX programme by choosing the company's main rival, Airbus, to renew its domestic fleet.

Qantas has operated Boeing jets since 1959 and at one point was the only airline in the world with an all 747 fleet. 

Boeing's 737 MAX planes have been plagued with problems. The aircraft were globally grounded and urgent safety checks were carried out, following the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashes which killed hundreds of people

Qantas' new deal will see it buy 20 Airbus A321XLRs and 20 Airbus A220-300 jets, with the option to buy as many as 134.

The new Airbus aircraft will replace Qantas' Boeing 737 and 727 fleet.

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 for Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar.

Once finalised, this will represent the largest aircraft order in Australian aviation history.

Financial details of the deal are commercial in confidence but represent a material discount from list prices.

The airline says it compared the options from Airbus with those on offer from Boeing's 737 MAX as well as Embraer's E190's and looked into engineering, flight operations, customer experience, network, fleet procurement and finance teams.

In the end, Airbus came out on top.

The aircraft ordered are similar in size and design to those used by Air New Zealand between Aotearoa's main centres.

Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines also chose Airbus over Boeing for its new freightliner fleet, and is reported to be the favourite to win a new long haul contract from Qantas for aircraft designed to fly non-stop from Australia to London and New York.