Alliance embraces the Embraer E190

Alliance Airlines continues to punch above its weight with the addition of 14 Embraer E190 jets to the fleet.

By David Flynn , August 27 2020
Alliance embraces the Embraer E190

Alliance Airlines will take delivery of the first of 14 Embraer E190 jets next month, and is considering an all-business class version alongside dual-cabin and all-economy layouts.

For the Brisbane-based carrier, it’s all about offering flexibility and variety within the fleet.

Alliance bucked a ‘shrink to survive’ trend among airlines the world over by purchasing 14 of the popular regional E190 jets previously flow by Panama’s Copa Airlines from US-based Azorra Aviation as part of a $112m package, with the option to collect the keys to five more E190s.

Alliance will likely fly the E190 in a number of configurations.
Alliance will likely fly the E190 in a number of configurations.

All 14 E190s are due in the hangars by mid-2021, and will be the largest local footprint for the compact twin-engine jet since Virgin Australia pensioned off its E190s across 2016-2018.

Copa configured its E190s with 10-12 business class seats and 84-88 seats in economy, and Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield tells Executive Traveller that a number of “slightly different configurations” could end up taking wing.

Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield says the E190 offers exceptional passenger comfort.
Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield says the E190 offers exceptional passenger comfort.

“I could see that we could have business class,” Schofield says. “Our bread and butter is single class economy (but) we’ll have the ability to change our cabins… included in the transaction was a significant component of step-ups including cabin interiors and spare parts.”

“We’ll have the flexibility to operate the aircraft either in that dual-class cabin or in single class with 100 seats.”

“We are have a Fokker 70 running around in all business class, with 48 seats; we have another Fokker 70 in a 24-seat VIP configuration. So we do like to have a bit of variability in the cabin configuration, and also we like to have the ability to change the interior configuration even while we are in service.”

Virgin Australia previously flew the E190 with a 2-1 business class cabin.
Virgin Australia previously flew the E190 with a 2-1 business class cabin.

Regardless of how Alliance’s E-jets are configured, Schofield expects they’ll be welcomed by the airline’s wide array of passengers, which spans from the resources market to holidaymakers – Alliance recently picked up a state government subsidy for flights between Brisbane and the Whitsundays – and private charter flights.

“The E190 is an exceptional aircraft from the passenger comfort point of view. You can fit up to 114 seats in these things, so even in an all-economy 100 seat layout, that's a pretty generous passenger experience.”

No middle seat

And unlike the larger Boeing 737s which are the workhorse of Qantas and Virgin Australia, even economy seating will be just two seats either side of the aisle, so there’s no dreaded middle seat.

“We already see that in the Fokker aircraft, having only five abreast,” Schofield recounts. “Only 20% of the cabin has a middle seat, so you have to have over an 80% passenger load before you use the middle seats.”

“That's always been received very well by our passengers, and the E190 has the added advantage of no middle seats.”

The Embraer E190 has carved out a sweet spot below the likes of the Boeing 737.
The Embraer E190 has carved out a sweet spot below the likes of the Boeing 737.

However, Alliance’s E190s won’t be rushing into the skies as soon as they are delivered. Despite the first being due in September “and then basically one every 21 days thereafter” Schofield says, “the expectation is that the first E190s won't go into service until February 2021.”

“The current view is that we have a need for around four E190s upfront. Outside of that we’ll see where the opportunities are, and either bring them in quickly, or in a more gradual fashion” based on demand.

“Most other airlines look at what their demand’s going to be, and then place forward orders for the exact number. We always like to buy in bulk and then have aircraft available for down the track.”

“But during the course of the 2021 financial year  is when we'd expect to bring most, if not all of them in.”

Alliance's extensive Australian route map has plenty of room for the E190.
Alliance's extensive Australian route map has plenty of room for the E190.

 

As to where the E190s will fly, that’s also being determined. “We're infinitely flexible as to where they end up,” Schofield says.

Alliance has a partnership with Virgin Australia for flights within regional Queensland “so there's an opportunity to deploy some of the aircraft there,” in addition to “incremental work” alongside the 42-strong Fokker fleet on Alliance’s own services.

“Down the track in a number of years, we don't know how many years, they will become the replacement aircraft” Schofield says. “We will need to replace our Fokkers at a point in time, clearly, but that's not now.”

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 488

REX, Alliance, Qantas, Virgin, Link, Air North etc etc, did someone forget we live in Australia with a limited population?  

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

They could branch out to New Zealand Domestic two weeks ago everything was back to 70-90% of pre-covid levels although this current Auckland lockdown has messed things up. 

If there's any money to be made in NZ domestic you can bet Air New Zealand and Jetstar will be all over it like a rash. Smarter for Alliance to stick to what it knows best and has already proven to be a winner.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 174

Yes but they all serve niche markets and support a strong resources/ FIFO workforce/ government subsidised routes somewhere in their networks.

Yes, Alliance is good at leveraging niches and resisting the temptation to go mainstream. As well as the niches mentioned by Dan22, many would know and have experienced that they operate under contract on VA flight numbers for many regional routes, particularly in Queensland. On that market, their Fokkers and E190s can be put on schedules where the business case for a 737 does not stack up, yet still maintain the competitive advantage of having a jet service. The flagged availability of business class only adds interest to the competition, particularly where the opposition is using Dash-8s.

jpz
jpz

13 Aug 2020

Total posts 4

Is there any chances to introduce E190-E2 in their future fleet? Although it may be cheaper to purchase used aircrafts at this time

Why are so many people obsessed with the shiny new aircraft and forget that running an airline is running a business? It's definitely cheaper for Alliance to buy second-hand E190s than to buy new E2s, and there would be littler if any business case benefit to the E2. Alliance has gotten where it is by being smart with buying the right type of aircraft for the right price to suit its routes and market. It doesn't need to go overboard here.


How far can these aeroplanes fly would they do Perth Sydney or Perth to Singapore 

These are the extended-ranger or 'advanced range' AR versions of the E190 which can carry a full load of passengers up to 4,500km, so they could do PER-SIN which is 3,900km but not SYD-SIN which is 6, 300km. But Alliance would have no interest in flying PER-SIN, the route already has Qantas and Singapore Airlines and Scoot.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 174

Why wouldn't they have any interest - using SIN as an example they would have the advantage of a plane that would be so cost advantageous compared to 250-300pax plane and only need to fill 100 seats or so. In good times there's that many flights between Per and Sing approx. 7 widebody flights a day. 

One thing I can't stand on this forum and seen it so frequently these last few months is the level of certainty and know how people seem to have - unless you work for the airline do not expertly say they have no interest when you do not know.

"Why wouldn't they have any interest - using SIN as an example they would have the advantage of a plane that would be so cost advantageous compared to 250-300pax plane and only need to fill 100 seats or so. In good times there's that many flights between Per and Sing approx. 7 widebody flights a day. "

I agree, if Alliance wanted to take on PER-SIN the smaller loads needed to make the E190 work on this route would be very advantageous, they could easily do PER-SIN-PER in a single day seven days a week if demand was there.

"One thing I can't stand on this forum and seen it so frequently these last few months is the level of certainty and know how people seem to have - unless you work for the airline do not expertly say they have no interest when you do not know."

I actually welcome some "certainty and know-how" to counterbalance the fact that some commenters speak more as aviation enthusiasts or without the perspective of considering things from 'business' point of view. The majority of readers here seem to be a bit more 'grounded' as actual frequent flyers and business travellers, well at least back in the days when we could fly frequently and for business!

28 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

Alliance should look at doing PER-DPS as well as PER-SIN. Jetstar used to operate this, with limited frequency and Qantas has a daily PER-SIN. Now with Jetstar's PER based going, there's an opportunity right there for Alliance to jump in and take advantage, post Covid19 restrictions on international travel of course.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 240

PER-DPS was a bloodbath prior to COVID, and it'll be a while before the "bogan bus" traffic builds up again once international borers open.

They'd be crushed by SQ and to a lesser extent QF if Alliance ever thinks about PER-SIN.  Especially when SIN is SQ's main hub.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 240

borders*

IIRC JQ used to operate PER-DPS-SIN, whilst 3K (Jetstar Asia) had the PER-SIN flights at one point.


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