Alliance Airlines Embraer’s will start flying for QantasLink under a wet-lease arrangement on May 25. Alliance Airlines will initially provide three Embraer jets to QantasLink. The planes are first destined to fly between Adelaide, Alice Springs, and Darwin. This will be the first time either Qantas or QantasLink has used Embraer aircraft for their regular commercial flights.

Alliance Airlines lines up for 30 Embraer E190s

Alliance Airlines is best known for being one of the world’s biggest operators of Fokker aircraft. But in August 2020, the Brisbane-based airline scooped up 14 Embraer E190s from Copa Airlines in a US$78.9 million (AU$111 million) deal. In December, Alliance Airlines opened its checkbook again, buying a further 16 ex-American Airlines Embraer E190s.

In total, Alliance Airlines is getting 30 of the popular regional jets. To date, 18 of those aircraft have been fully paid for and delivered to Alliance Airlines. Five E190s are already in Australia, three are in base maintenance overseas, and 10 aircraft are in storage awaiting base maintenance.

Earlier this month, Alliance Airlines received regulatory approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to begin commercial flights using E190s. A revised Air Operators Certificate was also issued.

Alliance Airlines has already started using the Embraers for their own commercial services. In addition to extensive charter and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) operations, Alliance Airlines also operates scheduled passenger services that focus on the northern half of Australia.

Alliance Airlines to fly E190s on three routes for Qantas from May 25

Earlier this year, Qantas did a deal with Alliance Airlines to wet-lease the Embraers to fly for QantasLink. Qantas has a 19.9% stake in Alliance Airlines. Amid murmurings of anti-competitive buyouts, Qantas had kept the relationship at arms-length. But now, the two airlines are drawing closer.

Under a three-year deal, from May 25, three Alliance Airlines E190s will start flying QantasLink services between Adelaide and Alice Springs, Adelaide and Darwin, and Alice Springs and Darwin. These routes, which usually handle one or two QantasLink flights a day, are normally serviced by Boeing 737-800 aircraft. By the end of May, those Boeing will be redeployed elsewhere on the domestic network. The Embraers will wear their Alliance Airlines livery, but the crew will wear QantasLink uniforms. QantasLink says the deal will allow Qantas group employees to work on the Embraers while wider airline markets continue to be uncertain or depressed.

The deal sees ramped up frequencies on the three routes

QantasLink is upping frequencies on these three routes. Over the three routes, frequencies are increasing by 30%, from 24 to 36 flights per week. The E190s will accommodate 84 passengers in the main economy class cabin and 10 passengers in a business class cabin.

“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,” says QantasLink’s John Gissing.

“The E190 is a perfect mid-size regional jet for routes like these ones in northern Australia. It has a 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 centers.”

QantasLink will base the three Embraers at Darwin and Adelaide. The airline has the option to take another 11 of the aircraft from Alliance Airlines. QantasLink also has the right to send planes back to Alliance Airlines if market conditions change.

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