Alliance scoops up another 16 Embraer E190 jets

The Brisbane-based regional airline is bulking up its E190 fleet to 30 of the nimble E-Jets.

By David Flynn, December 18 2020
Alliance scoops up another 16 Embraer E190 jets

Alliance Airlines will bolster its fledgling jet fleet with the purchase of 16 Embraer E190s, on top of the 14 already headed for its Brisbane hangars.

The E190s, previously flown by American Airlines and retired in April this year, have been snared in an $85 million deal which also includes one spare engine.

Alliance will collect the keys to the first five jets this month, and then one per month will be handed over across January to November 2021.

The E190s will arrive in American's 99-seat configuration of

  • 11 business class seats (in a 2-1 arrangement) with 36" pitch
  • 8 extra-legroom economy seats (at the exit row) with 34" pitch
  • 80 economy seats with 31-32" pitch
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.

“The 100 seat jet aircraft market globally will rebound quickly as carriers look to focus on total trip costs rather than traditional metrics,” predicts Alliance Airlines managing director Scott McMillan.

“The additional capacity will be deployed to capture several growth opportunities across Australia including contract flying and wet and dry lease operations.”

McMillan added that one noticeable side-effect of COVID-19 “has been the market shift away from regular public transport to charters.”

While Qantas holds a 20% stake in Alliance, and has expressed its interest in "taking a majority position" in the company, Alliance also maintains an extensive partnership with Virgin Australia.

This is likely to add some 40 regional routes to Alliance's network, following the streamlining and downsizing of Virgin's fleet under new owners Bain Capital, along with a sharper focus on the most profitable routes.

Read more: Virgin, Alliance tie-up to keep regional routes flying

Alliance's E-Jet experience

Alliance's first tranche of 14 E190s, which came from Panama’s Copa Airlines, come in two variants with 10-12 business class seats and 84-88 economy seats.

Alliance Airlines CEO Lee Schofield has previously told Executive Traveller that a number of “slightly different configurations” could end up taking wing across the E190 fleet, from a two-cabin layout to all-economy and even an all-business VIP model.

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

“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.”

No middle seat

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 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.”

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.”

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.

qantaska21 Banned
qantaska21 Banned

18 Dec 2020

Total posts 1

Qantas should buy more in Alliance once COVID is all over and dust settles. Alliance is a very successful carrier and it will benefit Qantas if they buy more in it.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 785

Good luck with that. A lot of Alliance's current success is by wet leasing to Virgin. ACCC isn't too happy about your ideas. https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/investigation-into-qantas%E2%80%99s-stake-in-alliance-airlines-continues

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 219

I would personally fly an E Jet on domestic routes over a B737 any day if Alliance went that way. What's the intention with these jets - replacement of exisiting F70/100s or expansion?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 277

Tipping it'll be both. 

Replacing 'some' older Fokkers whilst at the same time also used for expanded Charter/FIFO and Wet Lease (Virgin Australia) work on regional routes.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1245

Interesting that they compare it to the 737 rather than the  717 which is its direct competitor with only about 10 more seats.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 577

Just maybe we see some wet lease on VA routes like Sydney - Gold Coast in winter?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1245

Upup VA doesn’t need to wetlease as alliance is their code share partner and will most certainly be on those routes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 300

Things have turned full circle, VA used to run the E190 on a lot of regional and seasonal routes, and then got rid of them, now they will in effect  be using them again. I used to fly on the VA E190 a lot, mostly TSV- SYD as QF don’t operate that route and the E190 were great, felt spacious and quiet.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 5

I've flown the E190 with VA before on SYD - BNE and I prefer them over the 737.  Seemed much more spacious and no middle seat.

please stop using seat pitch as measure of legroom. It's not. It all depends on seats used & specifically the thickness of the seat back.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 173

The article doesn't say pitch = legroom. You are correct in saying pitch doesn't directly equate to legroom, as the seat design can take a 31" pitch and give it the same 'legroom' as an older 32" seat. But you need to understand that despite this shortcoming, 'pitch' is the industry standard measurement used by aircraft makers, seat designed and manufacturers, airlines and everybody else. There is no standardised alternative.

qfp1

there can be a lot more than 1 inch difference. Comparing old seats to newest slimline seats can mean up to 4 inches extra legroom, with the same seat pitch.

In other words comparing seat pitch without knowing the seat or seat abck thickness, is virtually meaningless.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 173

I gave that 1" as an example, yes there can be more depending on the age and design of seats you're comparing, but my point is, what's YOUR alternative to a publication listing seat pitch? Surely it's got some value even without knowing seat model and seatback thickness, or are you suggesting that nobody should list seat pitch unless they also have those other details as well? If so then that's completely unrealistic.

qfp1

simply measure legroom or distance from front of one seat to back of seat in front, at a certain height perhaps.

Otherwise comparing seat pitch is meaningless.

Many LCCs have minimum seat pitch of whatever that is 28 or 29 inches, but with the latest slimline seats, they could have more or same legroom, than an airline that says it has 32 inch seat pitch.

Am surprised that LCCs don't make a huge point of this.

The legacys love telling everyone that they have greater seat pitch, but that might not mean more legroom.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 173

You're missing the point, yes it's obvious how a different measurement such as 'legroom' could be made, my point it, you say to ET "stop using pitch" but you don't have a realistic replacement for it, in that the only common standard used throughout the industry is pitch, this is the only measurement available across the industry. So while it's not 100% accurate surely it's better than nothing?

is it better than nothing ? Not so sure.

If I was running marketing for an airline, I would find a legacy carrier with less legroom & then say

"our airbus XYZ has more legroom, than airline ABC's"

(even though seat pitch might be less)

think Virgin should put an Alliance E190 on SYD/Albury route. Rex/Qantas only offer turboprops.

If too big, they could always go back to 80 seats F70s.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 862

The issue with this is the jet's operating costs on such a short sector are significantly higher than the turboprops and the time saved is actually negligible.

reeves

nothing to do with costs or time saved. Most pax would rather be on a jet & flights in & out of Canberra are the highest yielding in the country.

Albury ? Large ATO office is located there & many public servants probably fly to SYD very regularky & they don't care what it costs.

21 Dec 2020

Total posts 2

That's some quality reporting:

The E190's will arrive in American's 99 seat configuration of:

8 business class seats (in a 2-1 configuration) with 36" pitch

4 extra leg room economy seats (at the exit row) with 34" pitch

80 economy seats with 31-32" pitch

That's 92 seats.  Caught it on the first read, and I'm not even a journalist.   Didn't remember math being different when I visited Australia.  C'mon....

For the record, American's E 190s were configured with 11F/88Y.  Yes 4 seats at the exit row had more legroom.  So did the first row of coach, but they were tighter due to the tray table in the armrests.  The E190 never got AA's Main Cabin Extra seats in coach.    

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 173

According to SeatMaestro American's E190s had a row of Main Cabin Extra, see https://www.seatmaestro.com/airplanes-seat-maps/american-airlines-embraer-erj-190/

21 Dec 2020

Total posts 2

American bills all exit row seats Main Cabin Extra.  The only rows they reconfigured were the ones at the front of coach.  

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1245

Regular most Qantas flights are turbo props up to 20 a day as the punters prefer more options in terms timing. These use jets 717s at peak hour times. Q400s at other times

yes & so Qantas will have a problem if Virgin uses Alliance 80 & 100 seater Fokkers & E190s on many Canberra routes including SYD/CBR.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1245

Regular the 717s beats the Alliance jets and the Q400 on cost with the same block time and 20-30 fewer seats so more flexibility.

what does beats mean ?

I would have thought the very cheap Alliance jets would be more cost effective than tha 717s. The E190s especially.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1245

Regular it all depends on how much Qantas paid for the 717 and if they are deprecated versus Alliance’s ownership costs. My point was the 717 beats the E190 on capacity at peak times (10 seats can be quite a bit) and the Q400 on cost for same block times at other times. I disagree on the jet preference being that strong. I use both and convenience is the driver and get annoyed when Q400 flights are consolidated, which is a little bit too often.


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