First Qantas-painted Airbus A320 lands in Perth

VH-VQS about to touch down in Perth. (Duncan Watkinson)

The first Airbus A320 to be painted in Qantas colours has broken cover after arriving in Perth on Saturday.

The former Jetstar-operated A320, VH-VQS, operating under the Jetstar flight number JQ8996, arrived in Perth from Seletar, Singapore on its delivery to Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation shortly before midday. The aircraft is the first of two A320s Network will operate under the QantasLink brand on resource industry fly-in/fly-out charter services in Western Australia.

The introduction into the Network fleet of the 180-seat all-economy class configured Airbuses will in turn allow Qantas to redeploy two Boeing 737-800s elsewhere in its network.

Another view of VH-VQS about to touch down in Perth. (Keith Anderson)

The two aircraft are due to enter service in April, Qantas said in January when it confirmed the new additions to the Network fleet.

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.

VH-VQS touches down in Perth. (Duncan Watkinson)

VH-VQS, which was originally delivered brand new to Jetstar in September 2005, now becomes the largest aircraft in the Network fleet, and the largest to wear the QantasLink livery of Qantas’s regional operations.

However it is not the first Airbus A320 to be used in Australia for FIFO, as  Virgin Australia Regional Airlines also operates two A320s on FIFO services in WA.

Virgin Australia staff in front of an Airbus A320. (Virgin Australia)
Virgin Australia Regional Airlines also operates two A320s. (Virgin Australia)


  1. Roman says

    What is the advantage of the 320 compared to the 737? Why not just leave the 737s there. Or did JQ have spare ones not used?

  2. Greg says

    Is operating a fleet of two aircraft viable, particularly considering crews? Maybe there is a plan for more…..

  3. Will says


    I believe the A320 is better suited to the hot environment and shorter runways often associated with WA FIFO ops. An A320 will use less runway to get airborne for a given payload. It may not necessarily climb as good as a 737 but when terrain isn’t really a factor in WA, who cares.

  4. Jens Buche says

    I would prefer to see more independent carriers emerging in Australia that centre their overhaul, maintenance and painting activities in Melbourne, Australia. We have the talent and should exploit it.

  5. Matthew says

    Correct about the performance of A320 in hot conditions. The 737s are being deployed to PER/SIN double daily.

  6. Simon says

    Well Will, it would appear you know very little about the terrain in wa.

    The Pilbara is several thousand feet above sea level thus this has a dramatic effect on an aircrafts performance and therefore the amount of payload it can carry.

    Add the high elevation to high temperatures up there the A320 is the perfect aircraft over the B737.

  7. David says

    I believe the cramped Jetstar seats have been removed, and replaced with A more roomy Qantas seat, and will carry 180 pax.

  8. Mark says

    @roman @will

    Contract required high density (economy only), and they will be low ultilisation. That rules out Qf 737 (dual class) and jetstar operation (utilization rates affect unit costs). It actually has nothing to do with performance. These aircraft have high airframe hours and are as such cheap assets appropriate for low utilization rates. Network model has fewer assests per airframe due to the utilization.

  9. Mark, Perth says

    Do the Virgin A320s used on the FIFO and Adelaide flights only have 168 seats? We flew back to Perth from Adelaide on one recently and my 6’ 4” son could cross his legs there was so much room. I’ll be booking the VARA A320 next time we fly to Adelaide.

  10. Callum says

    It’s about performance. The A320’s are better suited to the hot conditions in the Pilbara. During the summer months the 737’s cannot take off with a full load, leaving more than 30 seats empty.

  11. Scott says

    Seat guru has the Virgin A320 configuration at 162 seats in 27 rows, that would make it markedly more spacious than this QF or JQ A320 config.

  12. Mark, Perth says

    Thanks for the info Scott.

    Just when I was considering (anything but 737) alternatives following the loss of the Embraer on the PER -ADL route, along comes the VARA A320!

  13. AlanH says

    Interesting to see with all the (sometimes emotional) debate going on in other forums about the lack of the armless Skippy logo on the engine nacelles of the new Qantas B787-9s, that he appears here on the engine nacelles for the A320s. Perhaps the comments about engine interchangeability of QFs 789s with JQs 788s might have some credence after all!

  14. Craigy says

    @alanh. Boeing have said there is a drag penalty if there is more than one coat of paint. Also Nacelles are attached to the aircraft. So if an engine is changed the nacelles normally stay with the airframe not the engine

  15. Susie says

    Qantas subsidiary Network Aviaion should now challenge Virgin on the Chrismas Island/Cocos Island operation where VARA is down to 2 return services to Perth per week and reliability to these remote Indian Ocean communities is extremely poor.

  16. James says

    You have to have low pressure tyres for the Indian Ocean contract., also the contract only requires two services a week and I think it’s a ten year contract, so others my have to wait a while to bid for it.

  17. Beech says

    Simon …the highest peak in WA is Mt Meharry at 1249M with a prominence of 836m. Hardly enough to impact 737 or any other jet