Qantas to transfer two Jetstar A320s to WA-based Network Aviation unit for charter flights

Qantas plans to replace two Boeing 737-800s with two Airbus A320s for FIFO flights in Western Australia. (Seth Jaworski)
Qantas plans to replace two Boeing 737-800s with two Airbus A320s for FIFO flights in Western Australia. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas’s Network Aviation subsidiary will operate Airbus A320 narrowbodies on intra-Western Australia charter services, taking over some flying currently operated by Boeing 737-800s.

The two A320s are being sourced from the Jetstar fleet and are expected to start flying with Network Aviation from April, Qantas said in a statement to Australian Aviation.

Jetstar’s A320s are configured with 180 seats in an all-economy layout versus the 174 seats (12 business, 162 economy) of Qantas’s 737-800s.

Further, the A320s offers superior takeoff performance in the hot weather conditions often experienced on fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) services to WA’s remote mining destinations compared with the 737-800.

As a result, it is estimated the A320s can carry up to 30 additional passengers on FIFO flights.

The two 737-800s released from charter-related flying will be used elsewhere on the Qantas network, including extra nonstop flights between Perth and Singapore.

Qantas resumed Perth-Singapore flights in June 2015, following a one-year absence on the route, with five flights a week using 737-800s. The route was lifted to daily a few months later and currently operates 11 times a week.

However, Qantas said in November 2017 it would offer double-daily flights between Perth and Singapore from April 8 2018, while its Singapore-based low-cost carrier (LCC) unit Jetstar Asia would withdraw from the route from March 25 2018.

Qantas acquired Network Aviation, which at the time was a charter and FIFO operator, in February 2011.

Since then Perth-based subsidiary has expanded its role within the Qantas Group to also fly some regular public transport (RPT) services in WA with its fleet of Fokker 100 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines also operates two Airbus A320s on FIFO services in WA.

The first Network Aviation Fokker 100 in QantasLink colours VH-NHY. (Qantas)
The two A320s will join Network’s Fokker 100 fleet. (Qantas)



  1. Lechuga says

    Aren’t the Jetstar Neos starting this year? Fairly sure it’s Mid 2018 they start.

    It’s the Virgin Max’s starting next year.

  2. Rick says

    Horray, just what we need. More 5 hour flights on 737s to Singapore! It should be against the Geneva convention to subject passengers to 5 hours in a 737. I’ll stay with those providing wide-body services

  3. Rhino says

    @Rick, let me get this right. Flying transcontinental for 5 hours in a 737 is ok, but flying 5 hours international is unacceptable? Give it a rest. Be thankful you have the services…

  4. James says

    @ Rhino.

    Well said.

    @ Rick

    You’ll fly narrowbody when the price suits. Just like everyone else. Why must most people commenting on these stories always be so negative. Have a look at yourselves. Honestly.

  5. Craigy says

    @ Kent What?

    Pretty sure the Jetstar neos start in 2018. The delay was to move capex from 2017/18 to 2018/19 financial year.

    @Rhino Agree totally. Sounds like Qantas doesn’t need Rick’s patronage

    Interesting comment about the difference in aircraft performance between the B738 and A320. I wonder if it is the same between the A320 neo and B738 max? Will be an interesting project for shorthaul replacement.

  6. Patrickk says

    Rick, there is no shortage of Asian and European carriers flying 5 hour 737 flights. The economy seats are the same as as cramped widebody such as a 777-300 which flies 14 hour sectors. Not sure what your issue is.

  7. Helga says

    Rhino, 5 hours transcontinental is not ok either, but Perth to Brisbane is less than 5. Perth to Singapore is always 5 plus hours…sometimes almost 6 hours if you end up in a holding pattern coming in to Singapore (happens quite often).

  8. Lechuga says

    Gonna have to put up with transcontinental 737s soon with A330s all being put on international routes.

  9. Ben says

    Superior performance? Because QF didn’t order the SFP variant like VA did! Also you don’t want people in WA getting used to any J class product on intra-state services… otherwise what happens when you put them on a F100 or 717!? 😛

  10. Anon says

    @Ben says “Because QF didn’t order the SFP variant like VA did!”

    Incorrect Ben. Just because a talking head from QF PR says something doesn’t always make it fact. They are in fact trying to “sell” the message.

    QF operate a mixed fleet of B738 aircraft. Some have SFP (Short field performance) and some don’t. Some have 26K (26,000 pounds of thrust) engines and some only have 24K.

    A non SFP aircraft with 24K engines would absolutely have inferior performance to an A320. The SFP aircraft with 26K, not so much.

    This is all industrial, giving yet another bought Company AOC the potential to operate large single aisle aircraft.

  11. Gary says

    Ok Helga, just to be correct, Perth – Brisbane is just under 5 hours; however, I can guarantee you Brisbane – Perth is over 5 hours. I have done it enough and at 1.83 tall (6 feet) I have had no problems in a B738. A simple trek on the QF website has Perth – Singapore and the reverse at the same duration as Brisbane – Perth. These comments re the horror of 5 hours on a B738 are definitely first world issues!

  12. Australiana says

    Huh? What’s the big deal with 5 hours on a 737? I’ve done it on transcontinental flights, it’s no different to a wide body aircraft. The seats are still the same size!

  13. bondy747 says

    Regarding flying 5hr+ flights on narrow bodied aircraft. I think one of the issues here is seat pitch. Up until about 15 years ago the norm was 32inches for domestic and 34inches for international. Now it is 30 for domestic. However airfares have correspondingly dropped.( regardless of the perception that QANTAS is an expensive airline I have never had a problem getting a discount airfare with them for not much more than a low-cost carrier) This is what people want . Can’t have everything for nothing. I agree with the comments above about complaints being a first world issue, having travelled extensively. Perhaps a wonder through the slums of a large so-called third world city might put things into perspective.

  14. Donald says

    @Rino @James @Craigy
    Don’t all bash Rick. It’s quite alright for him to have his preferences. He’s not being negative at all. Let him have his say without everyone criticising him.

  15. James says

    @ Donald.

    Of course he’s allowed a preference. It’s just his post is yet another muffled QF bashing exercise that is so constant on these threads. The options available to travellers is still pretty good in much tougher economic times that the airlines run in.

    If he wants to go widebody, good for him. Stop complaining about what’s on offer.

  16. D Bell says

    I agree that profitability is what keeps an airline flying. However there comes a time when the extra 6 seats or even 12 seats, (1/2 rows) typically in the range of 737’s and 320’s kicking around Australia need to be seriously thought about. Sure many European airlines use high density seating on these aircraft types, particularly in the liesure market. From my little reading of this sector, many flights are less than 3 hours, with a few 4 hour sectors thrown in. I have flown Viena to Heathrow in a 757 and was very impressed. admitantly 22 years ago. Australia does not have critical mass of population to support large fleets of specialised fit out market specific aircraft. So the problem for airlines is how to maintain the profit line, fly people effectively from point a to b yet meet the market demands. Havintg flown 3 out of the 4 maionstream airlines and 3 of the “off shoots’, both airlines are guil;ty of “Downsizing on passenger comfort. Both need to take the extra 1 to 2 rows out, give everyone an extra 2 to 3 cms. if each ticket had $10 put on it, the cunumdrum would be solved. In terms of hot air performance aircraft. Old problem, well known about and the enginering departments of the various airlines need to ensure that the new aircraft being brought into service can meet these demands in Australia. Sure we don’t do -20 centigrade, but we do have 45 degrees routinely. Both Virgin and Qanatas are paying “lip service” to the core passenger base. Heaven help you if you have a special need of any sort. Rant over.

  17. TL says

    @ D Bell,
    Not sure if you relaise but the QF 737 seat pitch did not change with the extra row. The galley and toilet space was reduced.

  18. Rocket says

    @ Rick

    The Geneva Convention, really???

    Last time I checked we weren’t at war with Singapore.

  19. Rocket says

    @D Bell

    I flew across Europe on British Airways about 20 years ago on both a 757 and a 737 in Club Class and I was distinctly unimpressed – the seat was a tiny economy class seat with a different headrest cover and a different meal.
    People should just stop complaining about aircraft configurations in Australia and look elsewhere to see how good we have it… other than domestic sectors of international flights in the USA whereas in the world do you think you can fly domestic trans continental in a lie flat bed… when I did this flights in Club Europe, even then Australian carriers had large seats and pitch in the front cabin.

  20. Rick says

    Well that got a reaction. I’m sure 99% of you live in the east coast. Let’s clarify a few things:

    5hrs Transcontinetal, I simply choose non737 flights.

    Qantas deserted WA customers for years when there were no international flights.

    We don’t get Jetstar Australia option in Perth for international. Only Jetstar A320s, usually PK registration, and I ain’t getting on those. Every been on final into Jakarta on Jetstar when someone else is still using it? I have.

    The simple things, try using the toilets, always queues for the only 2 available. It’s not the seat pitch etc it’s the single aisle that’s the issue. Especially during service.

    BTW I’m a long term user of the brand (my FF number starts with a 0), when it was an option. Still use QF for domestic.

  21. Airlink85 says

    It’s interesting that this new aircraft type for QantasLink livery is being operated by the qantas group owned Network Aviation and not the Cobham Aviation aka National Jet Systems who operate the fleet of 717s across the country. I would of though the narrowbodies would of been more suited to a Cobham arrangement rather then the aircraft Network Aviation are use to operating …. perhaps this is a first step in a larger review of who is operating their QantasLink branded aircraft??

  22. Rocket says

    @ Rick

    All good points, the only observation I’d make is that other international airlines are feeding into an offshore home base and carrying many pax onto other destinations (effectively flouting the old bilateral rules by just changing the flight number entourage) so they can afford to run a larger aircraft especially those that pay about 25c a kg for fuel at their home base.
    Qantas used to run through services out of Perth with 747s as you probably know… the economics of doing so we’re destroyed when successive governments opened up the flood gates to every airline that wanted to fly here even ones banned in Europe while demanding no quid pro quo for Australian carriers. People though this was great because the fly by night outfits brought prices down but unlike SQ, EK, EY, GF, MH, NZ and others, Qantas is a public company and must make a profit. The government changed the rules and sadly we can’t have it both ways. Either there’s some patriotism and balance in aviation policy and Qantas gets a fairer crack (to offset our geographical position at the end of the line) or we let anyone fly here and Qantas has to count every dollar. I’m also a long time supporter of the brand but my FF starts with a 1.

  23. James says

    @ Airlink85

    Network is currently an all Fokker 100 jet operator. Although a little lighter with a few less people, much of a muchness same design of aircraft as the 717.

    As QF don’t own NJS, it would probably be a lot harder to integrate a new type (A320) onto their AOC, no doubt in the time frame they want to do this within. Plus finding crew, arrangements to drive them etc.

    Bit of a sign of the times (or times to come)

  24. Craigy says

    @ James

    Since Network was purchased to get into the mining charter operations another reason the A320’s are going to Network is that they will be used for mining charter operations.

  25. James says

    @ Craigy.

    Yeah I’m well aware.

    My comment was based on Airlink85 asking why they didn’t go to Cobham instead of Network.