Cobham gets 10-year, A$1.2 billion contract extension for QantasLink 717 flying

BOEING 717 QANTAS LINK CNS APR13 RF 5K5A9515
Qantas has 20 Boeing 717s. (Rob Finlayson)

Cobham Aviation Services will fly Boeing 717 aircraft on behalf of QantasLink for a further 10 years under a new contract extension.

The new deal, announced on Monday, has Cobham continuing to supply pilots and cabin crew for QantasLink’s fleet of 20 717s, as well as line maintenance engineering services in some locations.

Cobham said in a statement to the London Stock exchange the 10-year contract was worth A$1.2 billion.

QantasLink chief executive John Gissing said Cobham was an “expert operator” of the 717 in Australia.

“I’m pleased they will continue to provide safe operations and exceptional service to our customers in line with Qantas standards,” Gissing said in a statement.

“Cobham has also shown a commitment to deliver further efficiencies that align with the Qantas Group’s Transformation program.”

In addition to serving regional routes mainly in Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory and to Canberra, Qantas has in recent years utilised the 717 fleet on other capital city services, such as Hobart to Melbourne and Sydney, and Adelaide to Sydney.

Cobham has flown 717s for QantasLink since 2005 and the company’s chief executive Peter Nottage said he was delighted to be able to extend the relationship with the regional wing of Qantas for a further 10 years.

“Qantas is a very important and long term customer for Cobham and this is a significant contract extension, providing a valuable contribution and scale to our overall commercial passenger flying operations in Australia through 2026,” Nottage said in the Cobham statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The Qantas-Cobham relationship stretches back 25 years, given Cobham previously flew BAe-146 aircraft for QantasLink.

Cobham previously also performed heavy maintenance work on QantasLink’s 717s at its Adelaide base. However, Qantas took back that work in 2015 when it established a 717 heavy maintenance base in Canberra.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said recently the airline was looking to buy the 717s it currently had on lease as those leases expired and was on the lookout for further acquisitions in what was a scarce market.

“We’ve been out there hunting for more,” Joyce told reporters on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Dublin in early June.

“They are a great aircraft. If there was a possibility of getting a few more of them, we’d be keen on them.

And while Joyce said he was open to the possibility of Embraer E-jets or Bombardier CSeries being the answer to the eventual replacement for the 717 or Fokker 100, that call won’t have to be made for a while.

“Obviously we are keeping an eye on the Embraers, the CSeries. They have the potential to be longer-term replacements but we are a long way away before we have to replace the 717s and the F100s,” Joyce said.

“The F100s have very low utilisation. That’s going to continue, that’s why we bought them. The capital costs are low. We believe that they have a good life ahead of them. We are actually buying 717s. We obviously believe they have a long life as well.”

(Read more about the Boeing 717 and Bombardier’s CSeries in the July edition of Australian Aviation magazine, on sale now.)

Comments

  1. Derrick Aguero says

    I heard delta and USAirways is looking to offload there 717 aircraft, could be a possibility for Qantas to pick up a few.

  2. Jono says

    I don’t know they operate both the F100 and 717 out of Perth, would make sense to standardize on one or the other, seat count is similar, or could be if the F100 was reconfigured for 31in pitch as in the B717

  3. Rons47 says

    Reading latest Australian Aviation Hawaiian Airline ceo said there is no plane on the market or on the drawing board that will replace the B 717 they do up to 16 cycles per day with them

  4. PeterL says

    Derrick that would be OK only if Delta and USAirways have not accumulated high hours on these aircraft. It is a little more complicated than just being available….

  5. PhilLC says

    at some point one has to also plan for growth and looking 10 years ahead one will be facing challenges if he’s only looking at or for 717s because the other operators like them too – great plane which Boeing ‘disowned’ when the acquired MdDonnell-Dougals.

  6. Ben says

    If the 717 is so good I’m wondering if Boeing would ever relaunch it? They could do a next gen launch of it as a direct competitor to the C series or E Jets, especially if they get an order commitment from QFlink or Hawaiian, who both can’t seem to get enough of them.

  7. random says

    @Phil
    With 156 built and very slow sales numbers in 2005, Boeing was always going to be hard pushed sustaining the production line. Unfortunately it’s probably fair to say that the excellent characteristics of the aircraft only really became well known towards the end of the production run, and not soon enough to generate new orders. With pressure from Embraer and Bombardier platforms also in the 100 seat market, a lot of sales initially flowed to those manufacturers, reinforcing Boeing’s decision at that time.
    I doubt QantasLink would be looking for more than another 6-8 aircraft, but low time-low cycle jets will be hard to come by. The Volotea (Spain) fleet would seem to be the most likely candidate as they are being replaced by A319/A320 in the near future.

  8. kevin says

    The word on the street is that Qantas have aquired another 5 717s from Volotea. The 717s in Perth have been an ideal replacement to the 737s which were running to a lot of the northern mining towns and now the 150 seat market to those towns has been reduced with the mining downturn to make the 717 ideal to match the reduced capacity requirement.

  9. Jared says

    from rumour there isn’t enough work for the F100 aircraft as it is in WA, they purchased a shit load of them just after taking over Network Aviation. Since the down turn of the amount of Fifo work and not picking up as much fifo work as they were expecting. So would assume they would want to use more F100’s on services rather than 717 in WA. Much prefer the 717 Aircraft however.

  10. kevin says

    Jared there wis going to be nearly 100 717s coming onto the market nnow that delta and Volotea are getting rid of theirs. I think its going to be the end of the F100s and network