Qantas has begun flying five of the eight Embraer E190s it activated in its deal with the aircraft’s owners Alliance.
The flag carrier is now operating VH-UYW, VH-UYZ, VH-UYY, VH-UYB and VH-UYO between Adelaide/Darwin and Alice Springs. Its deal with the smaller airline has the potential to include up to 14 E190s moving forward.
The first flight was by VH-UYZ, which departed Adelaide on 25 May at 7:33am as flight QF1954 and landed in Alice Springs at 9:49am.
Raul Villaron, APAC vice president for Embraer’s commercial aviation division, said, “Congratulations to Alliance Airlines and Qantas as they step up the use of the Embraer E190s to enhance regional connectivity in Australia with right-sized capacity.
“Our team in Australia are ready to support their needs as the E190 literally goes places in the country.”
The news comes as Qantas said last week it would use its remaining E190s in the deal to fly five new routes including services from Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne to Townsville.
Crucially, the announcement means Qantas will soon exceed 100 per cent of its pre-COVID capacity in the next few months. The news marks an increase from Qantas’ April prediction that its domestic capacity would hit 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels in Q4 of FY21.
It also revealed it would rival Virgin on three new routes that its reborn competitor only announced the week prior.
In addition to the new routes, Qantas will upgrade many of its services to larger widebody 787s and A330s.
The 236-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will begin operating up to nine Sydney to Perth flights per week.
Meanwhile, the Qantas Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which serviced international routes into Asia, will operate on more flights into Darwin from Sydney and Brisbane, and also into Perth from Sydney and Melbourne.
These will be added to the A330s already flying on east-west routes.
Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David said, “As most international travel remains off limits for now, Australians are taking more regular holidays within the country and we expect these new direct flights to key tourism destinations will be popular with travellers.
“Our customers now have 45 more routes to fly than we had pre-COVID making it even easier for them to get to their next holiday or business meeting. Previously, travelling between these cities meant a connecting flight in the middle, but now they can fly direct and save at least an hour in the process.
“Our strategy of adding new domestic routes is generating revenue from our aircraft rather than leaving them on the ground. It means more work for our people and even more low fares for our customers.”
Alliance welcomed the delivery of 14 new E190s into its fleet in October last year following a $111 million deal for the jets. The new E190s joined its existing fleet of 24 Fokker F100, 13 Fokker 70LRs and five Fokker 50 turboprops.