Qantas Chief Executive, James Strong, today indicated that the airline was a potential launch customer for the world’s largest commercial aircraft - the A3XX being developed by the European consortium, Airbus Industrie.
Mr Strong confirmed that Qantas was continuing discussions with Airbus regarding the aircraft that will herald a new era in the history of air transport from about 2005 onwards.
He said Qantas was interested in the A3XX-100 variant capable of carrying more than 500 passengers in a three-class configuration on key, high-density routes between Australia and London and Australia and Los Angeles.
Mr Strong said Qantas was widely recognised as a pioneer in the development of long haul air travel from its origins 80 years ago in 1920.
“It is appropriate that we are set to continue our tradition of carrying customers in latest-technology aircraft operating on the world’s longest air routes.”
He said the anticipated seat-mile cost advantage and the payload range capability made the A3XX an appealing option for Qantas to consider for its large aircraft needs.
“Under the proposal being discussed with Airbus, Qantas would be seeking deliveries of up to 10 of the new aircraft progressively from 2006 to 2010 and beyond.”
Mr Strong said Qantas had evaluated the need for an aircraft larger than the Boeing 747-400 as a key element of the airline’s fleet renewal plans.
“Our preliminary analysis has shown that large aircraft, which are becoming available from about 2005, offer attractive economic improvements and an ability to meet growth at congested and slot-limited airports.
“We have been working closely with both manufacturers for some years now to ensure that their large aircraft products meet the special needs of Qantas.
“However, given our prudent approach to capital expenditure, we will only move if we see a clear business case and real benefit from the new types,” Mr Strong added.