Exclusive: Jetstar CEO discusses opportunities for 787s as they are freed up by A321neoLRs

Jetstar Airways is looking at new widebody route opportunities using the 787-8s freed up from Bali flights as A321neoLRs are delivered but is not about to select any new routes anytime soon.


  • Jetstar Airways expects to free up three 787-8s in 2020 to 2022 as A321neoLRs replace 787s on Australia-Bali routes;
  • Jetstar does not plan to select new widebody routes until closer to 2020 as market conditions are constantly changing;
  • Jetstar has reviewed several attractive new long-haul routes from Australia but is unable to launch new routes given its limited 787 fleet;
  • Jetstar has no plans to expand the 787 fleet beyond the current 11 aircraft and instead will pursue modest expansion using the three aircraft freed up from the Bali routes;
  • Jetstar has no intentions of basing any of the 11 787s in Asia.

Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans told the CAPA Global LCC Summit in Singapore on 2-Mar-2018 that new widebody routes from Australia will be launched as A321neoLRs replace 787-8s on Australia-Bali routes. Basing widebody aircraft overseas is not a consideration as operating a small 787 fleet from Japan or another joint venture market would be subscale.

Jetstar is not planning to expand its widebody fleet, which now consists of 11 787-8s. Mr Evans said in a CAPA TV interview after his presentation at the Global LCC Summit that using A321neoLRs to replace the equivalent of three 787-8s “essentially gives us 787 growth in a really efficient way for the period up to 2022”.

However, any decision on a long-haul route will not be made until much closer to mid 2020, when the first A321neoLR is slated to be delivered. “We won’t make a decision until we get closer to the time because in aviation things change quickly,” Mr Evans said. “Good markets turn into average markets. Markets that today may not be performing brilliantly may well be strong markets by then. But this does gives us the opportunity to add significant increased flying to new destinations or new frequencies to existing destinations with a super-efficient new generation widebody jet.”

He added that there are now several new long-haul routes from Australia which could be successful but Jetstar does not have the capacity to consider them. “There’s always good business cases. These are fantastic aircraft. There’s been a lot of business cases put on the table recently but we have not had the aircraft to be able to take advantage of them. This gives us aircraft time on the 787 to do that.”

The three 787s freed up from the Bali routes will be used on routes of over 6000km which are not within range of Jetstar’s A321neoLRs. Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Bali are Jetstar’s shortest widebody international routes and are all approximately 4500km long.

CAPA and Blue Swan have highlighted 16 new routes from Australia that are 4300km to 6000km long which could potentially be launched with Jetstar’s A321neoLR fleet. However, only a few of these are likely to be launched as Bali routes and domestic routes will use almost all of the capacity generated by the 18 A321neoLRs.

See related report: 16 potential new long haul narrowbody routes Jetstar may launch with its new A321neoLRs

Jetstar currently operates 12 long-haul international routes other than Bali, linking four gateways in Australia with China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hawaii. All of these routes are at least 6000km long and therefore are not in range of the A321neoLR given Jetstar’s high density 232-seat single class configuration.

Jetstar will likely add capacity on some of these 12 existing while also adding a few new routes.  “This is not about replacing the 787 but … freeing up some of the 787 capacity to add additional destinations or additional frequencies to the rest of the Jetstar international network, a network which is performing incredibly strongly,” Mr Evans said.