Qantas “very keen” on proposed Boeing NMA widebody

Boeing’s NMA would sit under the 787-8 and above the 737 MAX 10 in its product portfolio.

Qantas says it is very interested in Boeing’s New Mid-sized Airplane (NMA) project to develop a new small widebody airliner.

Chief executive Alan Joyce revealed on Monday (US time) that Qantas is “very keen” on the prospects of the NMA, which he described as “a fantastic transcontinental and maybe [to] Asia aircraft”.

“The economics of that on paper look good,” Joyce said in a media briefing ahead of the airline’s first Boeing 787-9 delivery.

Boeing’s NMA study is focusing on 250-270 seat, 5,000nm range widebody aircraft that would sit in its product portfolio between the 737 MAX 10 and 787-8. It would feature a composite wing and fuselage.

“We think there is a bit of gap… and Boeing thinks that as well,” Joyce said, explaining the aircraft could be particularly useful as a way of providing domestic capacity growth into an increasingly slot-constrained Sydney Airport.

“This is where Qantas is probably unique because we want ultra long-range but we also have a huge domestic network, so you want an aircraft unlike the 787s and the A330s which are designed for long range and are heavier than what we want [for domestic flying] so the economics on domestic takes a hit, whereas this aircraft could be the perfect vehicle east-west, into South-East Asia and leveraging the [available] slots [at Sydney].

“And that is something that we are very keen on and are working through.”

Boeing said at the Paris Airshow at June the NMA – or middle of the market (MOM) aircraft as it has also been called – could fly in 2023 and enter service in 2025. It has forecast a market demand for as many as 4,000 aircraft in the size segment.