Qantas Sending Its 787 Fleet To The California Desert

Filed Under: Qantas

Qantas recently retired all of its 747s and sent all of its A380s into long term storage, and now a majority of the Australian flag carrier’s 787 fleet is also going to the desert.

Qantas sending 787s to California desert

The Boeing 787-9 has in recent years become the backbone of Qantas’ long haul fleet, as the long range and fuel efficient aircraft has been ideal for service to North America and Europe. The airline currently as 11 of these planes in its fleet, with three more on order (though delivery of these planes will be deferred).

In September 2020 Qantas will be sending a majority of its 787 fleet to Victorville, California, where the planes will enter long term storage.

Qantas will be storing a majority of its 787 fleet

It’s expected that Qantas will keep a few 787s in Australia, in the event that there’s any need for them in the coming months. Qantas is placing around 100 of its 126 aircraft into long term storage.

While the planes could also be stored in places like Alice Springs, Victorville has an ideal climate for long term aircraft storage due to its low humidity. As a result, this is also where Qantas has stored its A380 fleet.

Qantas’ A380 fleet is already stored in California

Flying the planes across the Pacific isn’t cheap (or great for the environment), but I guess when we’re talking about them potentially being parked for a year or more, the transport cost is negligible in the grand scheme of things.

Qantas’ 787s may not fly for over a year

A few weeks back, Qantas canceled virtually all of its international flights through at least the end of March 2021. Unfortunately at this point even that timeline seems highly optimistic.

With Qantas’ 787s entering storage in September, it’s expected that they’ll remain there for at least a year, which would put us into September 2021. That suggests that best case scenario, peak season 2021 is when Qantas may resume long haul international flights.

As of now Qantas CEO Alan Joyce seems to think:

  • Qantas’ international flights won’t restart until July 2021
  • The airline doesn’t expect more than 50% of pre-coronavirus capacity until a year after that, which would be July 2022
  • When Qantas restarts international flights, the focus will be using smaller A330s and 787s, rather than A380s
  • Qantas’ A380 fleet is expected to be grounded for at least several years, and it’s questionable whether the planes will ever even fly again

At this point it’s truly tough to predict anything, given how the situation is constantly evolving. For example, just recently IATA adjusted its projections for the worse, and now believes international travel will recover in 2024 at the earliest.

Qantas may only resume long haul flights in late 2021

Bottom line

Qantas is sending a majority of its Boeing 787 fleet into long term storage in California. This ultimately isn’t surprising, since we knew Qantas was going to store 100 aircraft during the pandemic.

This more or less reinforces that it’s unlikely Qantas will operate any long haul flights prior to late 2021, and maybe even that is optimistic at this point.

Unlike other airlines, Qantas doesn’t seem to be doing much in the way of cargo flying, which counters the trend.

Are you surprised to see Qantas place most 787s into long term storage?

  1. The whole of Australian society has lost its sense of sanity with this virus. You cannot percent the spread of a virus that is asymptomatic in up to 70% of people who get it.

  2. Interesting… I have a ticket booked on Qantas from USA to NZ (through Sydney) in December and it still shows as operating…

  3. Australia seems to impose more drastic measures than most other countries. Therefore I would expect flights to/from Australia to start last. So it makes sense to store the planes.

    Now, as regards the storage place, I’m also bit surprised. I assumed the 747/A380s went to Victorville, because there is quite a high probability they are getting scrapped. And there is such a facility there. But I would be shocked if the 787 are getting scrapped … Based on that they could also store them in Australia, other than Alice also Kalgoorlie would be an option.

  4. You indicate the word “majority” in the article and “most” in the final question, but choose not to place either in the title. Your title would indicate the entire 787 fleet is moving to the California desert.

  5. @Andy

    I went up to Mammoth from Orange County during a weekend in June and drove by the Victorville airport. Saw the three 747’s parked there, but no A380s to be found.

  6. Marco, the 747s went to Mojave (MHV) located in the western Antelope Valley. They will the scrapped. The A380s (and soon to be 787s) are in Victorville (VCV), roughly 20 air miles to the southeast in eastern AV, where they are being “pickled” for future use (although the A380s are questionable). Both airports store aircraft and have vendors to fulfill the needs of the customer. QANTAS does have a fantastic maintenance facility at LAX, which is a 1.5 to 2 hours drive away. I am certain there will be many road trips to both airports. I recently retired from QANTAS and am quite sad to see what is happening, but what needs to be done must be done.

  7. @Matt Yep. I got an AAward ticket on Qantas AKL-SYD-SFO booked in mid-March 2021 and it also has not been cancelled, AFAIK.

  8. @Matt and @mangoMan

    I previously had traveled scheduled for Dec 2020 to AU on Qantas but cancelled earlier in the year. While the flight is still showing on my Qantas APP, I can say with near 100 percent certainty that it will not operate (for instance, it still says the operating aircraft is the A380 while we know these are parked in the CA desert). AU is trying to go full suppression on the virus (despite the current travails ongoing in the state of Victoria), and that will mean travel from the US for the casual tourist is not likely possible before Q4 2021 at the very earliest. As you have award tickets without the attendant tie-up in cash like I did, obviously it is fine to wait for cancellation. But I suggest not making any nonrefundable ground arrangements as I would be really shocked if you actually get to proceed with the trip. By the early fall timeframe I would expert Qantas to cancel the next tranche of its international schedule (currently only thru about 10/28/20).

  9. @matt and @mangoMan Qantas have only cancelled flights up until 31 October 2020. However they have removed the ability to purchase seats until end of March.

    That’s why your tickets are still showing up- I expect them to be officially cancelled in the next few weeks.

  10. I spoke to Qantas today Re my flight in November to Singapore and they told me that they are cancelling month by month as the call centres could not cope if they cancelled everything to July 2021 .They are up to September cancellations refunds and credits . Purchased flights are only being refunded or credits For flights booked to 31 October. They told me to wait another month and the free cancellation refunds will be extended post 31 October 2020.
    All FF award flights are cancellable without charge

  11. The 787’s are being stored in the US because the insurers want them in the US not in Australia, plus the Alice Springs aircraft storage facility is now full. The proximity of the engineering base in LAX also helps with logistics.

  12. Average humidity in Alice is less than average humidity in Victorville. Must be some other reason, like cost, or availability.

  13. @Aniron completely agree. Huge overreaction here with the level of restrictions imposed vs the paltry number of cases, and the travel restrictions are draconian.

  14. Hi Donald, it must really make you sad to see what is happening to Qantas and the aviation industry in general. How wonderful to have worked for Qantas

  15. Aniron, making a sweeping generalisation, with some fake figures to support it, doesn’t make it any truer.

    And the point of the restrictions is to have a low number of cases. If we had a high number of cases THEN it would have been stupid to have the restrictions as they hadn’t worked. Which is what happened in the US and UK for example. Just unmanaged. Whereas here we have restrictions and as a result few cases.

    Simple, logical outcome. Sad that some don’t understand that.

  16. 19 deaths in one day in the Australian state of Victoria, and the Covid deniers ask, “So what?” Makes you wonder how they feel about 18 deaths in a 737 accident in India. None of their family was involved.

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