Qantas will launch a new long-haul low-cost airline under the Jetstar brand to start services by January 2007, which according to Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon "will have a fleet of 60 narrow and widebody aircraft within five years".But what the wide-body part of that fleet will be and which aircraft Qantas will order for its mainline operations remains a mystery - at least till December 14, when Qantas hold a special board meeting to consider the long-term fleet plan.At stake is an order worth $15 billion at list prices for 100 aircraft, although insiders tell WA Business News the ultra long range component of the order may be deferred till early next year. Mr Dixon said in a statement that "this meeting is expected to discuss and approve major aircraft purchases, including the new aircraft for Jetstar's international operations."WA Business News understands from insiders at Jetstar that the airline wants to use either 350-seat A330s or 777s initially before moving to 330-seat A350s or 787s in the longer term.Airbus can deliver new A330s from the first quarter of 2007 but 777s are scarce posing problems for Boeing.This week Airbus and Boeing submitted revised proposals for Qantas and Jetstar and while the Boeing 787 and 777-200LR are favoured on marketing, engineering and operational grounds the Airbus bid is "significantly lower" according to one source at Qantas.Qantas proposes to use the 787/A350 to replace its 767s and A330s while the 777-200LR or A340-500 would open new routes such as London-Sydney non-stop or Sydney-New York non-stop.Jetstar's initial route structure would require 10 aircraft and would involve point-to-point routes between Australia and Asian and Pacific cities.Subsequent expansion will see Jetstar undertake two-stage flying to European and other destinations. Qantas says Jetstar's international services will complement Qantas' mainline international operations, with an emphasis on inbound and outbound leisure routes.
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