Jetstar to revamp Boeing 787 fleet as it eyes more long-haul flights

Jetstar is revamping its 787 fleet.

Jetstar is revamping its 787 fleet. Photo: AAP

Jetstar will pour millions of dollars into its Boeing 787 fleet, as the low-cost carrier looks to open direct flights to faraway locations to compete with foreign competitors.

Jetstar CEO Stephanie Tully said the fleet upgrade will enhance the flying experience for customers on medium-distance and long-haul flights.

“This multimillion-dollar fleet revamp will allow us to offer our customers more choice, comfort and amenities when flying longer distances internationally,” she said in a statement.

“Our existing 787 business class offering is extremely popular, so we’re doubling the number of business-class seats.”

The company said the new crew rest area aboard the 787s will allow them to operate longer flights to places such as Sri Lanka and India, however, no decisions have been made about future routes.

Justin Wastnage, adjunct industry fellow at the Griffith Institute for Tourism, said the move is an effort to compete with Asian airlines offering flights to leisure destinations that Qantas doesn’t normally service.

“Leisure traffic is very price sensitive because the less you spend on flights, the more you can spend on hotels,” he said.

“People are willing to put up with lower comfort when it comes to leisure traffic, especially if it is a family holiday just because of the sheer economics of taking four people rather than two.”

The upgrades will begin in late 2025, with design work “currently under way, with more details to be provided in the coming months”, according to Jetstar.

The Jetstar upgrade will add crew rest similar to what is already in Qantas’s 787. Photo: Jetstar

Jetstar’s Boeing 787s are almost a decade old and have made nearly 55,000 flights since 2013 to destinations including Bali, Japan, South Korea and China.


Although Jetstar has touted its 787s burning up to 25 per cent less fuel than previous generations of aircraft and the emissions benefits, Wastnage said it is also a pragmatic move based on fuel prices.

“Fuel cost is the most expensive cost for airline operation, so there’s cold-hearted economics there,” he said.

“The major change in emissions is going to come from sustainable aviation fuel.”

He said the electrification of commercial airlines is likely at least 40 years away because of the weight of battery technology.

“Large commercial aircraft can’t be electric because the weight-to-thrust ratio doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“The next revolution has to be how do we drop in a fuel that has been grown from stock that doesn’t pollute, a renewable plant stock rather than fossil fuel.”

Jetstar’s 787s will also receive a new lick of paint. Photo: Jetstar

Jetstar has set a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Other changes

The budget airline is also increasing the number of business-class seats in response to “growing customer demand for more choice and extra comfort when flying long haul,” with 44 seats to be available compared to the current 21.

Wastnage said the Qantas group is proactively looking to increase the services throughout their airlines.

“This is in competition with emerging Asian carriers who may want to service those markets, especially from Indonesia and the Philippines,” he said.

“This is an active attempt to really get ahead of that.”

Jetstar is also adding onboard wi-fi for the first time to its fleet of 787s and revamping economy and seating with new chairs.

It has been a tough year for the Qantas group following intense scrutiny of former CEO Alan Joyce, outgoing chairman Richard Goyder and the company’s business practices, but Jetstar has managed to fly relatively under the radar.

Despite the negative press and customer negativity, the group still managed to deliver bumper pre-tax profits of $2.47 billion for the 2022-2023 financial year, the first full-year profit for the flying kangaroo since 2019.

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