Thursday 21 May 2020

Qantas to Fly Boeing 787 to Johannesburg

QANTAS B787-9 VH-ZNA (CN 39038)             File Photo

Qantas plans to replace the Boeing 747 with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner's on the Sydney-Johannesburg route from the 28th March 2021, ending months of speculation about the future of the route and Qantas’ Boeing 747 fleet. Qantas has just released its flight schedules for travel beyond 28 March 2021, which marks the beginning of the IATA 2021 northern summer scheduling period. From this date, the Sydney-Tokyo route is also earmarked to switch from a Boeing 747-400ER a to Boeing 787-9 service. Other than Sydney-Santiago, which will switch to a Boeing 787 service later this year, Sydney-Johannesburg and Sydney-Tokyo were the only remaining Qantas routes to be served by the airline’s ageing Boeing 747s. There will be no changes to the schedule of QF63 from Sydney to Johannesburg, nor the return QF64, when the route switches to Boeing 787-9s next March. The Qantas website has been updated to show the new aircraft type. The Boeing 787 offers Economy, Premium Economy and Business seating – just like the Boeing 747 – but there are fewer seats in each cabin. In particular, the aircraft change will result in a substantial reduction of available seats in Economy. That could lead to higher airfares on the route. But Qantas does plan to increase the frequency of its Sydney-Johannesburg service from 6x weekly to daily, with the addition of a flight on Wednesdays. The aircraft change is also good news for Business class passengers, who will soon enjoy Qantas’ Business suites on the route instead of the older 747 SkyBeds. Of course, all of this is subject to change given the current uncertainty surrounding international travel and when Australia’s borders may re-open. Qantas is currently operating just 1% of its usual international flight schedule, and flights from Sydney to Johannesburg have been grounded since the end of March. Regular Qantas flights to South Africa are currently scheduled to resume on 1 August 2020, but this is extremely unlikely to happen. Qantas simply hasn’t extended its international flight cancellations beyond August yet (delaying the inevitable). When international travel resumes, Qantas could be the only airline with direct flights from Australia to South Africa. Before the international travel shutdown, South African Airways also flew from Perth to Johannesburg. But South African Airways is in deep financial trouble and is unlikely to survive (in its current form, at least). If a rebooted South African Airways does not return to Perth, Qantas could be interested as it was very close to launching Perth-Johannesburg flights in 2018.

QANTAS B787-9 VH-ZND (CN 63390)    File Photo

Could EDTO/ETOPS regulations now affect the Sydney-Johannesburg flight?

Qantas’ flights to South Africa, particularly the daytime QF63 service, often fly far enough south to get a good glimpse of the Antarctic icebergs. But with the switch from the four-engined Boeing 747 to the twin-engine 787, ETDO regulations may require Qantas’ Sydney-Johannesburg flights to track further to the north, in order to be closer to possible diversion airports.

EDTO stands for “Extended Diversion Time Operations” and was formerly known as ETOPS, or “Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards”. EDTO regulations require aircraft with only two engines to remain within a certain distance from a suitable diversion airport at all times during the flight. This becomes an issue on long flights over water, such as Sydney-Johannesburg which is thousands of kilometres from the nearest airport during the middle of the flight. ETDO rules do not apply to aircraft with four engines, so have not been an issue for Qantas’ previous Boeing 747 flights on the Sydney-Johannesburg route.

Story sourced from here.

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