SYDNEY, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national carrier Qantas on Monday announced to expand its domestic fleet as its freight service has seen a growing e-commerce demand.
Qantas will increase six Airbus A321 freighters, which will be sourced on the open market and converted from carrying passengers to cargo and expected to progressively arrive between early 2024 and mid-2026.
The new fleet will replace the long-term fleet of five Boeing 737 freighters that are approaching the end of their economic life.
Qantas said each A321 freighter can carry 23 tonnes of cargo, nine tonnes more than the older 737s, and are around 30 percent more fuel efficient per tonne of freight carried.
Qantas is also converting two widebody A330s to freighters, one of which will be used on the domestic network and will continue to supplement its fleet with wet-leased aircraft.
The new investment, one of the largest ever in its domestic freight fleet, came after Qantas' freight saw a record performance from July 2021 to June 2022, partly due to increased demand for e-commerce.
According to Australia Post, online purchases saw an 11.9 percent year-on-year increase in the financial year from July 2021 to June 2022 with a record-breaking 9.3 million Australian households buying something online.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the increased fleet will enable Qantas Freight to capture more of the online shopping demand, and provide opportunities for further revenue and earnings.
"Qantas Freight has been one of the standout performers for the Group during the pandemic as Australians rapidly shifted to online shopping. While some of that shift is temporary, demand remains well-above pre-pandemic levels even with the lifting of almost all COVID-related restrictions," said Joyce.