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Qantas fleet: ageing aircraft and leasing potential, future of the A330, and Jetstar fleet needs

The Qantas fleet is in the news after an S&P report cautioned that Qantas had not invested in fleet in recent years, and as a result the airline faces a large capex bill as fleet renewal becomes imperative.

From having one of the younger fleets in the region, Qantas' average fleet age has steadily crept up, to 10.6 today. A young fleet is good for marketing and when fuel prices are high, but at the other extreme, Delta Air Lines provides a counter-example: one of the industry's oldest fleets, at an average of 17 years, but with new interiors, respected reliability and some of the industry's best profits.

Qantas appears to have many fleeting needs in good order: 787s are replacing some 747s, and Qantas' 777X/A350 campaign will replace the remaining 747s – and perhaps some A380s.

Of Qantas' mainline fleet, 57% is narrowbody 737 aircraft. If Qantas wants to reduce capex it is easy to lease narrowbody aircraft, and Qantas' investment grade rating ensures good deals. Less certain is how many A330s Qantas will need to replace, depending on its future Asian footprint.

Not to be forgotten is Jetstar, which has an immediate need for capex to fund 787 expansion.

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