(04 Feb 2021)
Qantas has signed a three-year deal with Alliance
Airlines to access three Embraer E190s based in Darwin and
The 94-seat jet has a five hour range that is well
suited to linking regional centres with smaller capital cities.
Initial routes that Alliance will fly are expected
to include Adelaide–Alice Springs, Darwin–Alice Springs and
The timing will depend on the rate of
recovery in travel demand but is currently expected to start in
June 2021, once the vast majority of the Qantas Domestic flying
has returned to pre-COVID levels.
Passengers can expect an increase in frequency
made possible by the size, range and economics of the E190
compared to the Boeing 737s that are currently used on these routes. The 737s will be redeployed elsewhere in Australia as part
an ongoing ‘right aircraft, right route’ approach to the Qantas’
The agreement also provides flexibility to access
an additional 11 (for a total of 14) E190 regional jets but also
to switch off some (or all) of this capacity, depending on market
CEO of QantasLink, John Gissing, said the deal
reflected the kind of flexibility needed to respond to
opportunities without committing any capital.
“We know this current climate of snap border
closures will pass and we want to be ready for the recovery and
for what is a structurally different market to what we had
pre-COVID,” said Mr Gissing. “The ability to switch on extra
capacity with Alliance will help us make the most of opportunities
in a highly competitive environment and having the right aircraft
on the right route helps us deliver the schedule and network that
“The E190 is a perfect mid-size regional jet for
routes like these ones in northern Australia. It has longer range
than our 717s and it’s about half the size of our 737s, which
means the economics work well on longer flights between cities and
towns outside of the top five population centres.
“Instead of one or two flights a day with a larger
aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day on the E190,
which gives customers in these cities a lot more choice about when
“We’ve worked with Alliance for many years and
they have flown literally thousands of flights for Qantas over
that time, with the same service and standards that customers
expect when they buy a Qantas ticket.
“By the time we switch on this extra capacity with
Alliance, we expect all of our own domestic crews will have
already returned to flying.
“The 737s that we currently use on these routes
will move to other parts of our network. We’ve already opened up
20 new city pairs with our existing fleet as more people holiday
at home, so there are a lot of possibilities once we get past this
cycle of sudden border closures.
“Importantly, Alliance is keen to provide the
opportunity for our international pilots and cabin crew to operate
the E190s given it will be some time before overseas markets fully
recover,” added Mr Gissing.
The E190 offers 10 seats in Business Class and 84
seats in Economy, with a range of about 4,500 kilometres.
Qantas owns just under 20 per cent of Alliance
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