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.