Why Qantas Will Retire Its Boeing Freighters This Year

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Summary

  • Qantas Freight is transitioning to an all-Airbus freighter fleet, retiring Boeing aircraft in 2024.
  • E-commerce demand is driving the change, with Airbus A321P2Fs offering more cargo capacity and fuel efficiency.
  • Qantas added Airbus A330P2F for international and domestic services, increasing fleet capacity by 29%.

While Qantas Domestic is busy replacing its Boeing single-aisle aircraft with Airbus airplanes its freight arm, Qantas Freight, is doing the same thing by retiring its fleet of Boeing freighters. The Boeing freighters will be replaced with converted Airbus A321 freighters this year.

The end of the Boeing era

According to Cargo Facts, Qantas plans to retire its aging fleet of four Boeing freighters in 2024 and replace them with three Airbus A321 freighters. The report said the first Airbus A321P2F (passenger to freighter) is due to arrive in March, while the other two aircraft will join Qantas Freight in the second half of the year.

The four aircraft slated to be retired this year include two Boeing 737-300BDSFs, one 737-400SF and one 767-300F. Qantas is already operating three Airbus A321-200PFs and had expected the next three during 2023 as it looks to build a fleet of 12 Airbus A321s over the next five years.

Qantas did not provide Cargo Facts with the specifics of the replacement aircraft, but the report suggests they will come via lessor JPLS Ireland Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s JP Lease Products and Services Co. Two of the lessor’s A321P2Fs recently left Guangzhou Baiyun International (CAN) after being converted by EFW and headed to Clark International (CRK) in the Philippines.

Photo: Airbus 

Both converted jets are powered by V2500 engines, with one an ex-Cathay Pacific (MSN1695) and the other formerly flown by British Airways (MSN 2799). The change to the Airbus A321s will increase network reach and capacity compared to the retiring 737 jets, making them suitable for domestic operations and trans-Tasman, near Pacific and Asia markets.

E-commerce is changing the market

It is also driven by the structural change in air freight markets due to the increasing demand from e-commerce activity. The A321P2Fs have fully containerized main and lower decks and give Qantas fleet commonality with the lower emission aircraft helping the airline towards its sustainability goals.

A Qantas Airbus A321 P2F just after take off.

Photo: Airbus

Qantas has removed two 737-300BDSFs, including the 1986 737 carrying MSN 23478 in 2022 and the 1987 737 MSN 23488 at the end of 2023. The A321s can carry 23 tonnes of cargo, which is nine tonnes more than the 737s and are around 30% more fuel efficient per tonne of freight carried.

Qantas A330-200P2F Australia Post

Photo: Australia Post

In October 2023, Qantas Freight added the first of two Airbus A330P2F that previously operated passenger flights for Jetstar and Qantas. One aircraft is destined for Qantas Freight international network services, while the other will be added to the dedicated fleet serving Australia Post’s domestic parcel and mail service.

The first A330P2F to arrive was delivered to Jetstar in August 2007 and transferred to the Qantas fleet in August 2015. The widebody freighters can carry 130 tonnes of freight and increase overall fleet capacity by 29% compared to the Boeing 737F they are replacing.

Are P2F conversions an effective to extend the life of A330s? Let us know in the comments.



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