Qantas considering potential routes for 787-9s

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Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey says the carrier is evaluating routes it could serve with Boeing 787-9s, although it currently holds no firm orders for the type.

The Oneworld carrier cancelled its firm order for 35 -9s last August as it reined in its capital expenditure. However, it holds options for the type which, if exercised, could allow it to receive the aircraft from 2016 onwards.

"We've got options and purchase rights for 50 [787-9s], and it's dependent on where our financials sit as to what we do with those aircraft and how we use them," he says. "But we're certainly evaluating different routes within Asia that we could operate with those."

Hickey could not give any indication on when the carrier is likely to firm up its options, saying only that it would "really need to understand that we're on track for breakeven in 2015" before committing to the aircraft.

The -9s would likely replace the Airbus A330s that Qantas uses on its Asian services. Those aircraft are scheduled to undergo a cabin refurbishment from late 2014.

Qantas's budget offshoot Jetstar is due to receive the first of 14 787-8s in August this year, but Qantas group chief executive Alan Joyce admitted recently that it expects possible delays to that plan.

"Obviously there has been a bit of movement around the -8s," says Hickey. "Whether that impacts the -9s, I'm not aware."

Boeing is now awaiting certification of a new battery containment system that would reduce the likelihood of a battery overheating and causing a fire. Concerns about the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries led to the grounding of the global 787 fleet in January.