QantasLink’s first A220-300 has officially left the paint shop and will arrive in Australia by the end of the year.
Registered VH-X4A, the new aircraft, named after the artwork Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa – The Two Sisters Creation Story, has been given an Aboriginal art livery featuring over 20,000 dots. The paint job took around 100 painters two weeks to complete at Airbus’ facility in Mirabel, Canada.
Qantas has ordered 29 A220s to replace the ageing QantasLink 717 fleet. While the A220s will be named after native Australian wildlife, ‘Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa’ is the exception as part of the Flying Art Series, and features the artwork of senior Pitjantjatjara artist Maringka Baker.
Each A220 will seat 137 passengers, including 10 in business and 127 in economy class. It has double the range of the 717, at 6,000 kilometres, while burning 25 per cent less fuel per seat and generating less noise.
According to Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson, the A220 will be a “game changer” for domestic and regional travel, and will mostly connect smaller cities like Canberra and Hobart with major hubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“These aircraft have the potential to change the way our customers travel across the country, with the ability to connect any two cities or towns in Australia,” said Ms Hudson.
“That means faster and more convenient travel for business trips and exciting new possibilities for holiday travel. A whole new fleet type also means a lot of opportunities for our people to operate and look after these aircraft.”
VH-X4A will undergo routine test flights with Airbus and be fitted with Qantas-specific equipment before being ferried from Quebec to begin flights on the Melbourne–Canberra route.
Qantas is expecting a further six A220s by mid-2025.