4. It's almost 2019 and making a decision at the end of 2019 for a 2022/2023 delivery of a special version of the A350/B777X with full order books seems a non-starter. Not only will those delivery slots cost QF a fortune, the tailored specs will come at a premium, even if they order an additional 20 copies for non-ULR operations.
5. By the end of 2019, the QF board is going to ditch this project and focus on Asia. PER-LHR becomes seasonal (Northern summer only).
A B787/A330NEO/A350 order will be announced.
I think both of these are disprovable.
First is the aircraft acquisition timeframe and cost. There is very little issue with that timeframe from either OEM's perspective, particularly if "2022-2023" shades into "2023."
The 777-8 EIS is expected in late 2021, presumably with Emirates as launch customer, and changes to the 777-8 for QF will be of the sort that don't require the sort of additional design effort that would delay an aircraft by years. Final design for the 777-8 is happening right now, and any MTOW increase or OEW reduction needed to meet QF's requirements is presumably being baked in. The 777X order book is not huge and is notable for having two large customers (Etihad and Qatar) for whom deferrals are likely to be valuable. By 2023 there is no question that the aircraft will be ready and slots will be there, and there is little reason for them to "cost a fortune" to Qantas.
The A350 is a bit more of a challenge for Airbus, but only a bit. All speculation seems to be that they are looking at a MTOW and effective fuel capacity increase (AFT?) for the -1000. Although it will require revisions to the basic -1000 design, none of that is unrealistic in five years from now and four years from the order date. The challenge is availability of slots, but again the A350 order book has customers who are likely to see deferrals as attractive. I feel almost certain there is a deal to be had out there for 2023 slots, and if there is one, Airbus's sales team will find it. No reason to soak Qantas, as that would just drive them to Boeing.
Second is the strategic point.
QF was brought to its knees by trying to compete head-on with Asian carriers on the strongest parts of their networks. To the extent it's staged an international recovery, it's been by focusing on things the Asian carriers can't do. The strategy you suggest leads only to brutal fare wars with LCCs whose labor costs are half of QF's. Instead, the airline is trying to leverage its geographical location and its decades of experience with ultra-long-haul to add value those LCCs can't match. And, judging by the fare premiums LHR-PER is commanding, it's succeeding more than expected. It would be baffling to reverse course on that. ULH requires a fare premium, but Qantas is better positioned than anyone else flying to Australia to get it. It's the only carrier outside the Middle East that can make a fleet of 20+ ULH aircraft work and the only carrier serving Australia for which it makes any sense to overfly Asia/Middle East and North America hubs. The more I watch the more the strategy starts to make sense.
First of all, you are following a wikipedia schedule.
The B777-9 has not even one completed airframe to roll out, let alone start ground testing on. When all is said and done, it won't fly in Q1 2019 but probably towards Q3 2019 with certification in late 2020 and EIS in early 2021.
20 deliveries in 2021, 40 deliveries in 2022.
That's if everything goes smoothly.
To do a daily MEL-LHR QF will need to have at least 3 airframes delivered and Boeing just can't reserve 5% of its 2021/2022 production capacity for QF when other customers will be waiting for delayed airframes.
Finally, considering the fact that QF will need the B777-8 variant, it's most unlikely that they will be able to start before the end of 2023, more realistically 2024.
If you look at the A350, you have a similar issue.
A lot of airlines are waiting for their copies of the A350, with a backlog of 10 years at the current production rate and tons of options.
Airbus has no room for QF until 2025, even if they ramp up production and convert some orders to A330neo.
Sure, there is room for a dozen airframes for project sunrise, but not for another 20 for the other routes that QF wants to operate long haul on. With full backlogs, Airbus has little incentive to be on newspapers even more.
And even if there are delivery slots, they're going to be super expensive. Add that to the tailored specs and you're looking at a 200 USD million per copy price tag.
That's too much no matter how much prestige is at play.
By the time QF gets a full line up of A350UULR's, say by 2025, the A350neo is launched, making the A350UULR obsolete.... Now that is smart??!
Airbus and Boeing will play along for the media attention. But they would be foolish to block any amount of early delivery positions when other carriers are already pushing for earlier delivery positions.
The second part of your argument isn't based on tangible evidence and contains many assumptions.
In the last decade QF retreated out of the Asian markets as did many Asian carriers. There was too much competition and too little margins.
This has improved lately thanks to a huge leisure demand from China, which is putting more weight on the demand side. This can be long lasting as a similar trend is observed in Europe and also intra-Asia, with carriers being opportunistic about it.
QF can compete or stay out of the Asian market.
But while they waste time and resources on their Sunrise project, they will see more and more Asian carriers flooding into their hubs with bigger and bigger equipment and start wondering what is going on. Around the time that it's too late, they will get widebodies to start competing. However, les jeux sont faits, it's too late.
I think that if fuel stays cheap, a probable assumption, the real risk is the short lead times for the A380 family... Chinese carriers will be very aggressive and could get A380's very quickly to expand and flood the markets.
QF can then rename it to project sunset, as they will be challenged on routes to Europe, Asia and the U.S. essentially ending up fighting to keep any amount of relevant international network.
Last edited by Waterbomber
on Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:26 am, edited 3 times in total.