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Qantas Orders A321 Freighters In Next Move with Airbus

A Qantas A380 in long-term storage (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Qantas has deepened it cooperation with Airbus again. In the wake of the growing demand for cargo, in particular in the Asia Pacific region, Qantas will increase its cargo services by adding six Airbus A321 freighters.

The flag carrier revealed that it will source the aircraft on the open market and covert the new aircraft from passenger flight to cargo flight. Six aircraft are expected to be arrived in Australia between early 2024 and mid- 2026. The new aircraft designation will be A321P2F — P2F stands for “passenger to freighter,” Airbus’s answer to Boeing’s Boeing Converted Freighter — BCF — program.

Qantas currently owns three A321P2Fs, which can carry 23 tonnes of goods, nine tonnes more than current 737s. The aircraft are around 30% more fuel efficient per tonne than their American-made counterparts. The airline said the A321P2F can reduce its emissions and enable to generate further operational efficiencies.

The airline will replace its two aging Boeing 737 freighters with the new aircraft. One B737-300F was retired last month after 36 years of services.

“This is one of the largest ever investments in our domestic freight fleet, that will enable Qantas Freight to capture more of that demand and will provide the opportunity to help Freight further grow revenue earnings,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in a statement.

According to the airline, Qantas Freight has been benefiting from the increased demand for e-commerce and higher international yields driven by supply chain disruption. Qantas didn’t mince its word on the upcoming financial report.

Earlier, Qantas unveiled that two of its Airbus A330 passenger aircraft had been converted into freighters and are expected to start operating in 2023. The new aircraft will be able to carry up to 50 tonnes of freight. Qantas said one freighter will join the international network and the other freight will operate domestic route.

Since the airlines have been facing the severe turbulence in 2020, most airlines geared up their cargo services for the Covid-19. Some carriers’ income from the cargo services offset the weak travel demand. Also, online shopping becomes the new normal after two years of the pandemic.

New Airbus Fleet

Earlier, Qantas reached the agreement with Airbus for subscribing 12 Airbus A350-1000 XWBs and 20 Airbus A220s and A321XLRs. Qantas said it would pick the A350-1000 for its well known “Project Sunrise,” linking Sydney and Melbourne, Australia to London and New York as well as operating other international routes.

The A321XLRs and A220s will be used primarily on domestic routes, while the A321XLRs could also be operated from Australia to destinations in Southeast Asia.

In the meantime, Qantas and Airbus announced further cooperation after the aircraft contract had been inked. The pair are going to invest up to $200 million to help develop the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Australia, with the project aimed at helping Qantas and other potential customers lower their carbon emissions. Qantas has committed to using 10% SAF in its fuel by 2030.


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