Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) will start using its B747-400s on selected domestic services as of July 30, 2018, as it struggles with pilot shortage affecting the operations of the B737-800s, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, the airline will use the Boeing quadjets on the Sydney Kingsford Smith-Perth Int'l transcontinental service from July 30 to September 5. The route is currently operated with a mix of A330-200s, A330-300s, and B737-800s.

The Australian carrier will also replace the B737-800s with Airbus widebody jets on the Perth-Singapore Changi service as of July 23. In addition, Qantas will also replace the B747s with A380-800s on some Sydney-Hong Kong Int'l flights, start using B747s instead of A330-300s on the Sydney-Honolulu route, and deploy the B737-800s instead of A330s on some Melbourne Tullamarine-Auckland Int'l services.

The moves should allow the carrier to reduce the utilisation of its fleet of seventy-five B737-800s and, consequently, alleviate the pilot shortage issues.

The shortage has been caused by a combination of events, including many pilots retraining from the B737s to fly the B787-9s, a higher utilisation for the narrowbodies after Qantas had moved some A330s from domestic sectors to trans-Tasman routes, and general understaffing. Reportedly, many of the roughly 600 B737-rated pilots have reached or are nearing the threshold of 1,000 hours flown within a 12-month rolling period, which effectively takes them off the active roster.

The carrier is also struggling to train more pilots as it faces a shortage of instructors.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Qantas currently operates four B747-400s and six B747-400(ER)s. The aircraft are scheduled to leave the fleet by 2020. Leaving aside the current adjustments, they are deployed mostly on Northern American services to each of Los Angeles Int'l and New York JFK, San Francisco, CA, and Vancouver Int'l, as well as to Tokyo Haneda, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, and Santiago de Chile Int'l.