Not going away any day soon, a Qantas 767-300ER

Qantas has confirmed the departure of seven of its 23 aging Boeing 767-300ER jets in a refurbishment program that will renew the interior of the remaining 16 of the type from October.

The statement doesn’t clarify the fate of the few remaining international services flown by the current 767 fleet, but the reworked jets will no doubt be valued by many Qantas flyers, as there is nothing as comfortable in a wide-body domestic jet cabin in economy class, including in the few international 747s that also operate some Perth transcontinental services, compared to the seven across seating found in these jets.

The issue for Qantas will be the added cost of keeping 767s in service way beyond their use-by date, which was to be by 2010 when the airline originally ordered the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in December 2005 for delivery from 2008.

But there is nothing ‘use by’ about the actual seating format. If you want the same spacious geometry in a domestic flight in a different type of jet you have to turn to the single aisle shorter range Embraer E-190s flown by Virgin Australia.

The ‘newly re-minted’ 767s will for the airline increasingly use more fuel and more maintenance dollars than newer more efficient designs.

Going on earlier guidance from Qantas, it intends to replace some of its 767 capacity with A330-200s which were transferred to Jetstar and will be returned to the carrier as the low fare subsidiary puts eight 787-8s into service from sometime next year, or, whenever.

With the Jetstar Dreamliners configured for 313 seats, most of them as tiny as the economy seats in a 737, that experience will not be as ‘dreamy’ as a renovated 767, and the same could be said for the returning A330-200s, which are mostly configured for 303 seats although it isn’t clear at this stage what if anything Qantas might do to their interiors to keep them in touch with the older but more human friendly dimensions of the 767.

This is the statement about the 767 refurbishment from Qantas.