Qantas orders six more Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

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Another airline will soon clip the wings of its fleet of Boeing 747, sending the jumbo jet into retirement on an earlier-than-expected retirement.

The new planes will also dramatically reduced the average age of the Qantas fleet, which until the arrival of the Dreamliners was rising steady over the last few years to 10.6 years in 2018, making it the 10th oldest in the skies.

Meanwhile, the airline group said in a trading update on Wednesday underlying profit before tax (PBT) - which excludes one-off items and which it regards as the best indication of financial performance - is forecast to be in the range of $1.55 billion and $1.6 billion for the 12 months to June 30 2018.

The forecast comes as third-quarter revenue rose 7.5 percent to $A4.25 billion versus the same quarter a year ago.

The first of these additional 787-9s is due to arrive in late 2019, with a rapid delivery of all six by mid-to-late 2020 - just in time for the airline's 100th anniversary in 2020. Qantas received the last of its 747s from Boeing in 2003.

"This really is the end of one era and the start of another", Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

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"Over the years, each new version of the 747 allowed Qantas to fly further and improve what we offered passengers. It's fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020", Mr Joyce said. The Dreamliners are now doing the same thing.

Qantas now operates the world's longest Dreamliner flight, its London to Perth, Australia, route, known as the "Kangaroo Route".

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce tips that with the new Dreamliners "we'll be looking at destinations in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe".

"That's a great proposition for our customers and creates some really exciting opportunities for our people", he added. Interiors of the 787s will feature the same configuration as existing aircrafts.

But the airline argues the reduced maintenance needs of the 787s combined with more efficient utilization and reduced payload restrictions on longer routes will mean the impact on Qantas International's overall capacity will be negligible. It is an addition to the Qantas Group Pilot Academy, opening in 2019. Two years ago the airline postponed indefinitely its order for eight more A380s - it's now a decade since the first A380s came into service - to focus on the Dreamliner, and also invest in the science behind a better customer experience on long-haul flights.

"Qantas is on track to deliver another record full year result even though we're facing a $200 million increase in our total fuel bill in FY18", Mr Joyce said.

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