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QantasLink reveals new international route as Darwin named E190 hub

written by Hannah Dowling | February 15, 2022

QantasLink is set to begin regular international hops to Timor-Leste on its Embraer E190s, under its ongoing wet lease agreement with Alliance Airlines.

Further, Qantas has announced Darwin will become a new jet base for its growing E190 fleet. The Flying Kangaroo is currently operating five Alliance E190s under the arrangement, however, has planned to operate at least eight.

The announcement comes hot off the heels of the news that Qantas will continue to operate its Kangaroo Route connecting Australia and London via Darwin, due to Western Australia’s ongoing border uncertainty.

At least four E190s will soon be based in Darwin to service key QantasLink routes across regional Australia, as well as a new permanent passenger service from Darwin to Dili in Timor-Leste.


Qantas has been operating weekly flights between Darwin and Dili since February 2021 in partnership with the Australian government, in order to “maintain critical passenger and freight links with Timor-Leste”, however, this service is now planned to ramp up and become a permanent commercial route.

QantasLink will initially operate three flights per week to Dili on its E190s, ramping up to five flights each week from July.

The regional carrier has also announced three new domestic routes from Darwin to Canberra, Cairsn and Townsville, all to be performed also on its E190s.

The airline said that combined, both announcements will boost both employment opportunities and tourism in the Top End, with at least 90 new pilots, cabin crew and engineering roles to be introduced.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce joined Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner to make the announcement and unveil the first E190 in QantasLink livery at Darwin Airport and said the new base would secure more travel options for Territorians with flow on effects for the local economy.

“The E190 is a fantastic aircraft and the new routes and frequencies they have supported means that Darwin is better positioned to take advantage of the comeback of domestic tourism and business travel,” Joyce said.

“Basing these aircraft in Darwin means securing more jobs and a stronger local aviation industry.

“As we prepare to welcome back international visitors, the E190s will make it easier to fly directly between Darwin and other popular tourist destinations including Alice Springs for central Australia, encouraging travellers to see more of Australia.

“The E190 allows us to improve our schedule for NT travellers. When we first introduced the E190 on our Darwin to Adelaide flights, we were able to double the number of flights we offered each day, giving customers more choice about when they travel. We look forward to providing this flexibility across other new and existing routes.”

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Comments (5)

  • Paul


    It must be poor old Air North’s turn to be walked all over.
    Years of flying Embraer E170 between Darwin and Dili, Timor Leste, as a code share for Qantas count for nothing.
    The marginal traffic that could easily be catered for by the E170 is now travelling on the E190.

    Question is, will the Timor Leste run be the E190 that is dry leased to Air North or will it be the wet leased E190 fro Alliance?

    • Mac Carter


      Air North has served several routes successfully for many years with their E 170’s, including the Darwin / Townsville /
      Toowoomba / Melbourne route which has been a great thing for those of us living in Townsville.
      Hopefully there will be enough traffic to support Air North with tie addition of Qantas Link and Bonza.

  • Steve A


    Yes, agreed Paul. Qantas and Air North used to be buddies and you could earn QF points and redeam them on Qantas.
    But now, as part of the QF management’s policy of bash all domestic competitors into oblivion, whilst at the same time exporting tens of thousands of Australian aviation worker’s jobs to Dubai and China and Dallas, I’m afraid that struggling old Air North will be consigned to the history books.
    I said it in my comments yesterday and I’ll say it again today, that’s the sort of thing that happens when QF management has been run by the same regime for so long. No fresh ideas, just the same old tunnel vision, and a grinding to a halt of fair play to everyone.
    In 2016, when Virgin Australia was undertaking its umpteenth new billion dollar restructuring, I offered my plan to restructure the airline to John Borghetti, but he said “too late Steve, the Board has already decided upon its plan of action, without me.”
    It involved expansion of ATR and E190 fleets, transitioning from B737 to A320 family mainline operations as the B737 wasn’t as versatile and flexible as the A320 family options and it was a 1965 technology aircraft dressed up as lamb, buying additional used B777-200ERs and B777-200LRs to add to its wide-body fleet instead of the A330s as VA couldn’t afford to go all Airbus with A350s being too expensive for it at the time. And a number of other things that would enable VA to grow larger and more profitable over a 5 to 10 year period than Qantas.
    I can still help VA to do that if they want me too. You just have to focus on QFs underbelly, and be as ruthless to QF as The QF management is to everyone else. Copying everything that QF does and being a me too airline, just allows QF to target you at every corner. There are plenty of ways out there for VA to do things that QF cannot do. VAs owners Bain Capital want to list and bail out of VA soon, but they will miss so much money if they do that. For a much less additional investment into the airline than what they have already spent, in all of the right places, could make VA 4 times the value of what it will be when listed.
    So, if VA wants to stop the QF management abuse, it has to change its strategy completely. But unfortunately Jane H is an Alan J protege, so she will need someone to help her who doesn’t think like him.

  • rod


    Steve A .. are you the guy to buy VA & make it 4 times it current value.
    I am sure there is plenty of NG Airbus products out there for you to save VA.
    As for E-jets , both E1 or E2 should be available for you to add to your saved VA.
    New thinkers are always good for the industry but as you have pointed out it it hard for a new thinker to be heard.
    Now you have a BONZA day.

  • Adrian P


    Opportunity for Canberra, Cairns , Townsville, Adelaide, and Alice Springs to hub through Darwin to London.
    Opportunity for Dili to hub through Darwin to London, killing the myth that Australia can only be an end of line destination.

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