Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has hinted he could use the airline’s status as the world’s safest to negotiate a cut-price deal to buy Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX when it returns to service.
Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Joyce said, “If you look at it from an opportunity point of view, given the aircraft is going to be very safe, what will Boeing do to get the safest airline in the world to buy the aircraft?”
In January, the Australian national carrier topped a worldwide poll by AirlineRatings.com to determine the least dangerous airline, with the site hailing Qantas’ “amazing record of firsts in operations and safety”.
Joyce said, “Qantas itself will put the [MAX] aircraft through its own lens to make sure we’re comfortable with it.”
Qantas is reportedly planning to place an order later this year for a replacement short-haul aircraft, with deliveries expected by the middle of the decade.
Boeing faces competition from Airbus, which has already sold Qantas 109 A320neos. It’s not yet confirmed whether they will be flying under the Qantas or Jetstar brands.
The A320neo has a capacity of 194 passengers and Airbus claims it is the “world’s most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft”.
Meanwhile, Boeing is currently carrying out work and checks on hundreds of 737 MAX jetliners in Seattle that have been built but not delivered due to the worldwide ban imposed last year following two crashes that killed 346 people.
Last week, Boeing moved quickly to reassure airlines that the discovery of potentially dangerous debris in its fuel tanks would not delay vital maintenance work designed to return the stricken model to service.
The statement came after an internal memo leaked to Reuters revealed how ‘foreign object debris’ – thought to include rags, tools and metal shavings – was found in “several” grounded 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle.
In the email, Boeing vice president Mark Jenks called the development “absolutely unacceptable” and added that “one escape is too many”.
Australia is one of 40 countries to have banned the aircraft, alongside territories including China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Oman, the European Union, Singapore and Canada.