Qantas announced that a new deal with Alliance Airlines will help the Qantas Group meet an expected surge in local tourism demand once the country moves beyond sudden COVID-related border closures. Alliance will provide the QantasLink network with flexible capacity using its recently acquired Embraer E190 aircraft, a 94 seat jet with a five hour range that is well suited to linking regional centres with smaller capital cities.
Initial routes that Alliance will fly are expected to include Adelaide–Alice Springs, Darwin–Alice Springs and Darwin–Adelaide. Passengers can expect an increase in frequency made possible by the size, range and economics of the E190 compared to the Boeing 737s that are currently used on these routes; the 737s will be redeployed elsewhere in Australia as part an ongoing ‘right aircraft, right route’ approach to the group’s network.
Qantas has signed a three-year deal with Alliance to access three E190s based in Darwin and Adelaide. The timing will depend on the rate of recovery in travel demand but is currently expected to start in June 2021, once the vast majority of the Qantas Domestic flying has returned to pre-COVID levels. The agreement also provides flexibility to access an additional 11 (for a total of 14) E190 regional jets but also to switch off some (or all) of this capacity, depending on market conditions.
The E190 offers 10 seats in Business Class and 84 seats in Economy, with a range of about 4,500 kilometres.