Qantas wants planemakers to propose an Airbus A330 replacement

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    IATA/ICAO code:

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Brisbane Airport, Melbourne Airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport

    Foundation year:

    a world

    Alan Joyce


Qantas plans to hold a competition between aircraft manufacturers to replace its aging fleet of Airbus A330s, with the process expected to start within the next 12-18 months.

The Australian airline has 28 Airbus A330s in its fleet, so any deal will likely be worth billions of dollars based on list prices. Confirming the news, the airline’s chief financial officer, Vanessa Hudson, said:

“We will be looking at the market in the next 12 months. That plane is heading to the end of its useful life. We will do a competition like we have for the narrow body fleet in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Qantas has 28 Airbus A330s in its fleet, of which 24 are currently active. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

Qantas and the Airbus A330

Qantas’ fleet of 28 Airbus A330s is made up of 18 Airbus A330-200s and 10 Airbus A330-300s. According to, the aircraft have an average age of 14.4 years and 18.1 years, respectively. Twenty-four of the airline’s Airbus A330s are currently active.


The airline has two seating configurations on its Airbus A330-200s. Its highest-density aircraft accommodate a total of 271 passengers in a two-class configuration: 28 in business class and 243 in economy class, and are used for short- and medium-haul routes. For its longer transpacific flights, Qantas operates a lower-density 251-seat configuration: 27 in business class and 224 in economy class.

The oldest Airbus A330-200 in the airline’s active fleet is VH-EBA, which was delivered to Qantas in December 2002. The youngest is VH-EBV, just under 10 years old. The airline’s Airbus A330-300s are considerably older: the oldest is VH-QPA, at nearly 19 years old, and the youngest is VH-QPJ, at 17 years old.

What options does Qantas have as a replacement for the Airbus A330?

Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing have several replacement options for the Airbus A330ceo.

Perhaps the most obvious choice would be the Airbus A330neo. A significant advantage is that the similarities between the two aircraft would simplify the training and conversion process for airline crew.

Qantas could follow the example of TAP Air Portugal. TAP was the launch customer for the Airbus A330neo in 2018 and has since added 19 of the modern aircraft to its fleet to replace its aging Airbus A330ceos. He has two more on order.

TAP Air Portugal has replaced most of its Airbus A330ceos with the more modern Airbus A330neo. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight

The Airbus A350 is another aircraft that is often billed as a replacement for the Airbus A330. In May 2022, Qantas placed an order for 12 Airbus A350-1000s. These lower density aircraft were ordered with the airline’s project sunrise routes to Europe in mind.

If you were to go with the Airbus A350, Qantas may need to revise the seating configuration. The planned configuration of the 12 aircraft currently on order, with 52 business class seats, may not be suitable for many of the airline’s Airbus A330 routes.

The Boeing 787 could be another contender. Qantas has 11 Boeing 787-9s in its fleet and is on standby for three more planes, which have already been built but have been delayed by delivery delays. They are expected to be delivered in mid-2023.

Like the heavy premium Airbus A350, Qantas Dreamliners feature the airline’s premium economy cabin and a larger number of business class seats. The aircraft is currently used on a variety of routes, including the airline’s nonstop flights to London and Rome.

Qantas will use the A330-200 on its upcoming Sydney to Bangalore route. Photo: Li Pang via Wikimedia

The Airbus A330: remains key to Qantas plans

While a decision on its replacement has yet to be made, the Airbus A330 still plays an important role in the Qantas fleet.

The airline’s recently launched Sydney to Tonga route will be operated by its Airbus A330 aircraft. The weekly flight will begin on August 25 and comes after Tonga opened its borders to international travelers earlier this month for the first time since March 2020. According to Qantas, demand for travel to the South Pacific has soared since the pandemic. A spokesman said,

“Fiji is 50% higher than pre-COVID demand, Nouméa is 13% higher, and flights to Samoa are performing above expectations. We anticipate services from Tonga will be supported by both citizens of Tonga like Australians.”

The new Qantas route from Sydney to Bangalore, which starts on September 14, will also be operated by the Airbus A330-200.

News of a possible deal with Qantas is likely to pique the interest of aircraft manufacturers, although we will have to wait at least 12-18 months before the airline makes a decision.

Which aircraft do you think Qantas will select as a replacement for the Airbus A330? He shares his thoughts by commenting below.

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