Out with the old, in with the new: Qantas announced that it plans to retire its Boeing 717 fleet by mid-2024 while the airline welcomes next generation aircraft that are more fuel-efficient.
In mid-June 2023, the airline’s third B717 will leave the fleet. This particular aircraft, with registration VH-NXI, is the first of its type to be registered and flown in Australia.
Named Blue Mountains after the world-heritage listed national park in New South Wales, the aircraft operated Jetstar’s first flight between Melbourne Airport (MEL) and Launceston Airport (LST) in Tasmania in May 2004.
image : Qantas
For 15 years, the aircraft has completed more than 29,000 flights, flying on regional and domestic routes for QantasLink.
Qantas said that the aircraft will be sold to another carrier in North America. It will make its journey to its new owner via Cebu International Airport (CEB), Sapporo Airport (CTS), and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC).
All B717s to be phased out by mid-2024
The Australian flag carrier said that all 20 of its Boeing 717s will be replaced by 29 Airbus A220-300 aircraft as part of its Project Winton fleet renewal program.
The Airbus A220-300 has 25% more seats – 137, compared to 110 on the Boeing 717 – as well as twice the range and 28% lower fuel burn per seat.
Qantas expects to receive its first A220 in late 2023, and the first of 20 A321XLRs will arrive in late 2024.
Farewell to the Boeing 717
A farewell ceremony for the B717 was held at Sydney International Airport (SYD) on May 29, 2023. As a symbolic display of thanking the old aircraft whilst welcoming the new, the departing B717 was “accompanied” by Qantas’ latest aircraft in its network: Qantas’ new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the latest Jetstar A321neo LR.
“It’s the end of an era for these Boeing 717s which have played a crucial role in connecting Australians across our domestic and regional network for more than two decades,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a press statement.
“It’s fitting that the very first 717 to be registered in this country is making way for another brand-new fleet type, the A220, which can operate double the range of the 717s opening up new domestic and short-haul international routes,” Joyce further said.