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Qantas mulls 747 Freighter buy – report

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 7, 2013

Qantas is reportedly in talks to buy 747-400 Freighters to complement its current cargo fleet, which includes a B767. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas is said to be in negotiations to purchase up to four used Boeing 747-400 Freighters to replace cargo jets it currently leases from US-based Atlas Air.

Qantas’s wet lease for two crewed 747s is set to expire early next with the lease on a third aircraft up in 2015.

The Age newspaper reported that Qantas is in negotiations to buy one of the second-hand freighters for as little as US$60 million, reflecting a steep drop in value for the 747 as fuel prices have soared. Boeing has replaced the 747-400F with the more fuel efficient 747-8F.

Qantas could also choose to renew the existing leases or enter leases with another company, The Age reported. Should it choose to buy the aircraft it would likely transfer them to subsidiary Express Freighters Australia and could hire new pilots. That could be a potential flash point with the airline’s pilots’ union, since Express Freighters pilots earn about half the salary of Qantas pilots.

Qantas carries about five per cent of air cargo shipped between China and the US. Its cargo division made a pre-tax profit of $22 million in the first half of the current financial year, a drop from $38 million a year earlier.

Qantas owns five dedicated cargo planes, including a B767 and several B737s.


  • Dee


    As always, QF are behind the times having let Middle East Airlines take Australian cargo to the land of sand. The 747-400’s sitting in the New Mexico dessert could have been converted to freighters, but I guess thinking forward is still to hard for the management.

  • Dane


    Why not buy the 747-8F? It’s gettting better than advertised figures and would surely be less costly to run than a 747-400F in the long run, plus has more capacity. Though at the other side of the coin you have to find cargo to fill it with.

  • Kil


    $60million? …Thats probably why they are going for the -400 option rather than the dash 8, thats like 5 times cheaper. And as if express freighter pilots earn half as much as qantas.

  • Tom



    It will probably be cheaper to buy secondhand freighters than to convert their extensively used 747 fleet sitting in the desert. The ex-QF 747s in the desert are among the oldest 744s around so they would not get much more out of them. They may be able to get younger airframes for a fraction of the price. Aircraft conversion is very expensive and time consuming. Considering the needs of Qantas Freight it is definitely forward thinking not to convert their ancient airframes.

    @Dane, they might not need the capacity of the 747-8F for one and when you can get secondhand 744F for ridiculously cheap prices the savings of buying them might outweigh the higher fuel costs. Plus it also has to be considered that introducing the 747-8F is, in many ways, introducing a brand new aircraft type. 744F is at least the same generation at their current fleet for maintenance purposes – exact same parts etc.

  • Mark


    Yet, Cathy are deleting their 747 400 F’s and buying new 747 8F’s ?
    They are not doing that for the fun of it and have obviously looked at the various options ie capital cost vs ongoing savings.
    It is well known that the 747 8’s are not selling that well so a deal could be done.

  • Mark


    Sorry that should be Cathay not Cathy……

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