Qantas is continuing to prepare for post-pandemic travel by purchasing National Jet Systems and taking 20 Boeing 717 aircraft back in-house.
The business, run by Cobham, had previously operated the fleet for 15 years on behalf of regional subsidiary QantasLink.
Chief executive John Gissing said, “The B717s provide us with [the] flexibility to service many segments of the domestic market, including regional routes, fly in fly out operations or more frequencies to capital cities. These are the kind of routes where travel demand is likely to recover first.
“Importantly, this is a back-office change which our customers won’t notice.”
The deal effectively kills the 10-year contract with National Jet Systems signed in 2016, however Cobham will continue to operate four cargo jets on behalf of Qantas freight.
Cobham Aviation Services chairman Kim Gillis said, “This outcome is testament to the exceptional levels of service and safety the B717 pilots, cabin crew and support staff have provided to Qantas over the years – I am sure many of them will see this as being brought ‘home’.”
The news comes a day after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said his airline could “easily” be operating up to 50 per cent capacity in July “if demand is there”.
Speaking to Nine’s Today program, Joyce said, “We don’t think we’ll go back to 100 per cent honestly in July but we have the capability to easily add 40 to 50 per cent of the capacity that we had before COVID-19 in that month and then a ramp up even further every other month.”