6 May 2014 © David Eyre
Qatar Airways and Etihad have both announced new types planned for services to Perth in future, to meet the competition from Emirates’ planned Airbus A380 services, which are now expected to start in July 2014 (subject to change).
On 4 May 2014 at an Etihad media event to showcase their new A380 and 787 cabin features, President and CEO James Hogan announced plans to use the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on Abu Dhabi – Perth services from around 2016/2017. Etihad will commence services on the Abu Dhabi – Perth route from 15 July 2014, initially using Airbus A330-200 aircraft, but it is expected to upgrade services to the Boeing 777-300ER later.
On 5 May 2014, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has announced at a press conference at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, that his airline will replace the current Boeing 777-200LR / -300ER service with the new Airbus A350-900 in early 2015. This will make it one of the first routes for the new A350.
Al Baker said that Perth route was chosen as the A350 is well suited to such an ultra long-haul route from Qatar’s Doha hub, as well as for Perth’s economic importance as Australia’s “mineral resources capital.”
Qatar Airways had earlier planned to make Perth the first Australian city to receive Boeing 787 services, using the 787-8 Dreamliner on the Perth-Doha route from 1 February 2013. These plans were cancelled in mid January 2013 due to the temporary grounding of the Boeing 787 after battery system problems. The type has not been introduced since then, as Perth is near the maximum operating range of the early model Boeing 787-8s, which were also ordered without the necessary crew rest facilities.
Emirates has stayed quiet about the planned launch of A380 services between Dubai and Perth, which have been delayed as the airline is awaiting completion of the redevelopment of Perth Airport’s international terminal facilities. Sources have informed AAWA that the airline may launch A380 services to Perth from July 2014. The airport has one A380-capable dual aerobridge at Bay 51, and another is under construction. A number of Emirates A380s have already visited Perth due to medical diversions (see photo below), but these were not operating scheduled Perth – Dubai services.