For 20 years the DC-9 was a staple of Qantas’s domestic predecessors TAA/Australian Airlines’ services to Canberra before the type was retired in 1989, but the modern incarnation of this fondly remembered jet, the Boeing 717, has touched down in the nation’s capital as Qantas re-arms for the hotly contested Canberra corporate market.
Qantas’s QantasLink subsidiary is introducing five newly acquired 717s to replace the parent company’s retiring 737-400s on services out of Canberra to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with the first, VH-YQS, entering service on Tuesday. The 717s, although acquired second-hand (the 717 has been out of production since 2006) are being configured with a brand new, two-class interior that takes up the competitive fight to Virgin Australia’s E-Jets which also serve the capital (with the two airlines’ jet services complemented by Q400 and ATR 72 turboprop services, respectively).
The 110-seat 717 interior features a four-abreast business class cabin with the leather seats boasting a claimed one-inch extra seat pitch and greater width compared to Virgin’s E-190s, with a new slimline design seat in the five-abreast economy class cabin. Inflight entertainment is also provided to every passenger via iPads (in business) and iPad Minis (in economy) and Qantas’s QStreaming content streaming service. QantasLink is also promising a “premium” food and drinks service.
The 717s are the first QantasLink aircraft configured with business class since the retirement of its BAe 146s, and join 14 already in QantasLink service which feature all-economy configurations and used predominantly in WA. The 717s are operated for QantasLink by Cobham Aviation Services, with the cabin reconfiguration work undertaken at Cobham’s Adelaide Airport base.