MIAMI – Qantas Airways (QF) has signed a deal with Alliance Airlines (QQ) to provide capacity using the recently acquired Embraer E190 aircraft from mid-2021, a company press release stated on February 4.

According to the release, the deal “will help the Qantas Group meet an expected surge in local tourism demand once the country moves beyond sudden COVID-related border closures,” as well as it “will provide the QantasLink network with flexible capacity using its recently acquired Embraer E190 aircraft – a 94 seat jet with a five hour range that is well suited to linking regional centres with smaller capital cities.”

Initial routes for the E190s include Adelaide–Alice Springs, Darwin–Alice Springs and Darwin–Adelaide.

Embraer E190. Photo: Embraer

Increase in Frequency Expected

Qantas sustains that passengers should expect increased frequencies on the routes, which are “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 Group’s network,” the company stated.

The deal is good for three years, starting mid-June, but timing can vary depending on how travel demand recovers back to pre-pandemic levels. The same agreement also provides flexibility to access 11 additional E190s and the ability to switch off some (or all) of this capacity, according to market conditions.

Embraer E190. Image: Embraer

Comments from QantasLink CEO

QantasLink CEO John Gissing lauded the flexibility needed for as response to the current situation.

“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,” Gissing said, adding that “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 customers want.”

The CEO also mentioned the performance advantages of the E190s.

“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,” Gissing said.

QantasLink E190s offer 10 seats in Business Class and 84 seats in Economy, with a range of about 4,500km. QF owns just under 20 per cent of Alliance Airlines.

Featured image: Qantas