When Qantas, the world's most experienced airline, cancels $8 billion worth of the most revolutionary plane, it is sobering. The 290-seat Boeing 787 is a game-changer just as the 707 was in 1959.
New materials and systems save up to 25 per cent of fuel, but even more important is its appeal to passengers.
All Nippon Airways of Japan reports 9 out of 10 passengers say the much-hyped 787 meets or exceeds expectations.
They are impressed with its quiet cabin, smooth ride, subtle lighting, huge windows, air filtration and higher humidity, which all help reduce jet lag, claustrophobia and fear.
Though Qantas still has 15 on order for Jetstar and 50 options, its international division is in a catch 22 situation.
It cannot afford the planes in large part because of intense competition and fuel prices but it can't afford not to have them if it is to turn things around.
Cancelling the planes is a serious risk but one the airline appears to have little choice but to make. Its share price is rock bottom and without dividends.
Qantas always prided itself on innovation and being a technical leader. But that ended in 1995 when it turned away from the successful and efficient wide-bodied Boeing 777 series.It tried to rectify the mistake in ordering the 787 but is turning its back again just as rival Virgin plans a fleet of 787s.
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