Qantas adopts Alliance Embraer E190 for regional routes

The nimble Ejets will slot in between the Boeing 717 and Boeing 737 on regional services.

By David Flynn, February 4 2021
Qantas adopts Alliance Embraer E190 for regional routes

Qantas will begin flying the Embraer E190 on regional routes under a three-year partnership with Alliance Airlines.

The 'wet lease' agreement – under which Alliance will also crew the aircraft – will initially cover three of Alliance's E-jets, with scope to expand to a total of 14 depending on market conditions.

Qantas expects to schedule the Alliance E190s from June 2021 on routes such as Adelaide–Alice Springs, Darwin–Alice Springs and Darwin–Adelaide, as the first three E-jets will be based in Adelaide and Darwin.

The Boeing 737s which currently fly these routes will be relocated to other parts of the domestic Qantas network in what the airline describes as an ongoing ‘right aircraft, right route’ approach.

Alliance's E190s will offer 10 seats in business class and 84 in economy, and are seen as sitting in a 'sweet spot' between the Boeing 717 and Boeing 737.

Qantas can tap up to 14 of Alliance Airline's E-190 jets on an as-needed basis.
Qantas can tap up to 14 of Alliance Airline's E-190 jets on an as-needed basis.

"The E190 is a perfect mid-size regional jet for routes like these ones in northern Australia," says QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

"It has longer range than our 717s and it’s about half the size of our 737s, which means the economics work well on longer flights between cities and towns outside of the top five population centres."

Gissing also suggests that the E-190, being a better fit against demand, will mean that "instead of one or two flights a day with a larger aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day on the E190, which gives customers in these cities a lot more choice about when they travel."

There's also a chance that some of Qantas' international pilots and crew will work on the nimble 94-seat jets.

"Importantly, Alliance is keen to provide the opportunity for our international pilots and cabin crew to operate the E190s given it will be some time before overseas markets fully recover," Gissing says.

The Alliance E190s will sport the same 1-2 business class layout as the old Virgin Australia E-Jets.
The Alliance E190s will sport the same 1-2 business class layout as the old Virgin Australia E-Jets.

Qantas owns just under 20 per cent of Alliance Airlines, which also maintains a regional flying contract with Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia used to fly 15 of its own E190s across a range of capital city and capital-regional routes until the jets were retired in February 2018 as part of a cost-saving and fleet simplification drive.

Those jets sported the same 1-2 business class layout as travellers will experience on the Alliance E-jets, which have come from Panama's Copa Airlines and offer 10 seats in the business class cabin: 1A sits in a row of its own, and is followed by three rows of 1-2.

Photos and review: Virgin Australia's new Embraer E190 business class

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.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 238

Are Qantas that short of aircraft (even during Covid) it needs Alliance to cover its flying? Or just another cost reduction exercise to outsource everything.

Not sure what the point of flying QF and paying QF prices is when everything from ground handling to the flight is operated by someone else?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 929

Over time Qantas is evolving into a brand rather than an airline in the sense it was in the past.  Now you can fly on Qantas branded aircraft that are operated by subsidiaries (Network, Eastern, JetConnect etc) or contracted (Cobham).  You can also fly on Qantas coded flights operated by someone else completely (Alliance, Emirates etc).  To date, they have handled this well with consistent product standards and that is what remains important. If standards start to diverge on product, safety etc then brand damage is a risk.

Does anybody know if Alliance cabin crew are certified across both the F100s and E190s?  If so, it is possible that across a shift an Alliance crewmember may operate on an F100 for VA and an E190 for QF.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 80

My guess would be that the contracts prohibit cabin crew from operating for both the QF and VA brands even if crew are technically certified on multiple aircraft, similar to the status quo for most regional airlines operating for major carriers in the States.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

13 Sep 2015

Total posts 5

Well said, I agree with you with exception to 'brand damage'.

Please don't be offended, but in my experience, Qantas don't give a toss about brand damage.

Think back to regular times... regular customers calling during regular hours would be on hold for at least 2 hours only to find themselves talking to a South African call centre. I can't begin to describe how bad this is.

Qantas is turning our airline into an overseas 'everything' whilst trying to retain 'national airline' status.
To hell with Aussie jobs, let's set up an SMS service in the Philippines etc etc.

From a booking and customer support perspective, Qantas is the worst airline that I've ever dealt with, time and time and time again. 

From an inflight perspective, I've never had a bad experience.
With that said, I try and avoid Qantas wherever possible and in the event that I am forced to use their service, I'll book through Emirates or Latam just to avoid Qantas customer service.

Alan Joyce doesn't give a stuff about Australians or Australian jobs, just look at his history.
Everyone seems to forget the day that he attempted to circumvent the Fair Work Act by forcing a bargaining outcome through the Federal Government by grounding the fleet. This came at the expense of people who were flying to weddings, travelling to say final goodbyes to loved ones who were dying in hospital, families who'd saved for years to afford their first overseas holiday and had taken time off work etc etc. 

Qantas don't really care about brand damage, they simply use their position as 'national carrier' to leverage outcomes without any real regard for Australians or the travelling public. 



Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Aug 2018

Total posts 13

I recall it's very rare for anyone to successfully (business wise) operate small jets like the E190 as part of the 'mainline' operation.

They only seem to work successfully when operated by a contractor like Alliance or an arms-length subsidiary which doesn't have the parents cost structure.

VA had this issue, going further back Kendell CRJ's operation had massive savings over the BaE146 Ansett was operating at the time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 295

VA's E190s, alongside 6x E170s were ordered back in the Virgin Blue days of the Godfrey (pre-JB) era in Virgin's first attempt at expansion in the Australian regional market with mixed results.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 929

They also came into Virgin factory fresh which meant they were expensive and had to earn a reasonable rate of return on.  Alliance have bought their E90s from airlines who need to sell quickly due to financial stress so have got a great deal.  As an estimate, Alliance has bought their initial fleet including spares for the approximate price Virgin will have paid for just 2 new E190s.   

Alliance's experience will be similar to their buying of used F100s and that means it will be hard for them not to make money from their fleet.

QFP

22 Jan 2013

Total posts 80

Hi, 

Airnorth use the E190 really well on a expanding network. 

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 367

Flyman Airnorth have E170, not E190

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2016

Total posts 9

Whilst I agree with you, I believe the problem with the introduction of this aircraft was airlines downgrading from 737's where the product was seen as inferior. However, if it replaced Q300's and Q400's with the aircraft, it would have been seen as an upgrade.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 37

David, perhaps a little soon to ask, but one can hope... Any indications on when a cabin review or further info might be available for these new (well, used) E190 birds for Alliance?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 348

Any news on whether these E-190s and crew will be QantasLink branded? Or, will they keep the Alliance brand on these routes?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 929

Historically Alliance has operated for both QF and VA, typically from BNE, and has never moved away from their own livery on aircraft and crews.  I would expect this to continue as it gives Alliance maximum flexibility in how it operates its fleet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 307

Could well be QF are getting ready to dump a lot of capacity on their main routes in response to competition, they have done it before, this move allows them to have 737’s ready to go.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 238

It’s in the article saying that but in language that won’t trigger the ACCC.

The Boeing 737s which currently fly these routes will be relocated to other parts of the domestic Qantas network in what the airline describes as an ongoing ‘right aircraft, right route’ approach.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 629

Good on Alliance but is it a blocking move from Qantas with VA? Normally a business wouldn't want to upset a major client and they would be happy to dance with the devil when it comes to profit specially Qantas profits.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 474

Who can blame Qantas, after all, the MEL-MQL sector services a rural, cash-crop based city that has never, repeat NEVER experienced a recession and is not serviced by a remotely credible rail service.  AND YET, Jane Hrdlicka and the Bain Crew have withdrawn VA's service.  In Fact, Virgin treated it as a 'recreational sector' with the only flights arriving/departing circa 11AM (a 20 minute turn-around), whereas Qantas had 4 services to/from, starting early morning ending circa 7pm.  The E190 used by Virgin was a far superior service to the 'egg beaters' used by Rex and Qantas.  It always struck me strange that Virgin didn't offer a simultaneous SYD-MQL-MEL and MEL-MQL-SYD service at least once/day to trial demand.  Could have been easy to backfill any initial spare seats with those SYD-MEL pax who had time to enjoy the detour (if available at no extra costs to a direct service).    

Qantas must be laughing at another of Virgin's 'fumbles', and to add insult to injury, using the same sort of plane used by Virgin.  

The E190 is a great little jet, used to fly the Virgin ones a bit on SYD-CBR for a while, and I remember the old AusBT/ET review (https://www.executivetraveller.com/photos-review-virgin-australia-s-new-e190-business-class). John Borghetti knew what he was doing when he added these to the fleet, in terms of finding a good small-size jet for routes which couldn't justify a Boeing 737, but of course and as mentioned by somebody above, those brand new jets came with a big price tag attached. Alliance is very good at jumping on good deals when the market favours buyers instead of sellers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 295

@AsiaBizTraveller..  Borghetti did not add the E190s to the fleet. Godfrey did (as Virgin Blue) as mentiomed a few posts up.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

I noted it was described as being between the 717 and the 737. Should have read between the Q400 and the 717 on seat numbers. The range is a great advantage for Adelaide and Darwin routes. The 717 and Q400s can look after the east coast regionals.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

It is very hard to get anymore 717s so this Alliance stash of E190s is a very good addition to the 20 717s. We can expect many more than three when passengers come back. My guess is ten at least and this will free up 737s for further afield and higher frequency routes.

QFP

22 Jan 2013

Total posts 80

Hi,

Any news when Alliance will start their sectors with VA? Routes?

Cheers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Aug 2016

Total posts 11

Living in Adelaide I'm happy to hear this, E190 much nicer flying on than 737 which i get sick of flying on, so will be great to happy on the E190 with Qantas/Alliance! 

......because Qantas is about to buy A350-900s to supplement the A350-1000 and order A220s to replace the prehistoric 717.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

14 the A220s will come but the E jets will supplement the 717s until that time (probably after 2025, there is plenty of life in the 717s not so sure on the E-Jets).

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 292

I didn't realise you were in charge of Qantas fleet purchasing? No way is Qantas "about to buy" any new aircraft in its current state, it won't even make a call on the Project Sunrise A350-1000s until the end of this year, and any follow-up order for say A350-900s would be years after that. Qantas hasn't even begun its domestic fleet planning, this was supposed to happen last year and then COVID hit, but Alan Joyce has already made it clear the A220 is over-priced.  Sure, a negotiating tactic, but to come here and say Qantas is about to buy A350-900s and A220s is fanboy or avgeek delusion.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

14 the the A350-900 is too close to the 787, they may order some A350-1000s with higher seat numbers but I suspect they will keep ~ 300 seat A350-1000s for the higher seat routes as a premium heavy option.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 168

I suspect others are right when they say this will let Qantas free up more 737s to boost capacity against Virgin and Rex. All the same, I hope the E190s come to some regional NSW routes, they're top aircraft, like a mini 737!

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 3

THere are about 90 B717's available soon, ex-Delta Airlines, leased from Southwest Airlines. They got these when they took over AirTran, but they didn't fit with their one aircraft type of operations.

Yes, good on Alliance but remember the words of the song

"Never smile at a QF crocodile 

No you can't get friendly with a QF crocodile 

Don't be taken in by his friendly grin

He's just seeing how you'd look within his skin "

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1294

Steve then Qantas will go for a few more 717s. They seem to be working a balance between them and the Q400. They may keep the embraers in the west but are a good option if they can’t get enough 717s.

doesn't Air Kiribati have 2 of the newer E190s ? (more fule efficient ones called E-2s maybe?) With Australian registration ? I saw one in front of the old Brisbane International airport a week or 2 ago, alongside 2 x Qantas 787s I think. (I was driving & old had a quick glance)

Years ago, IIRC, Air Vanuatu used to use an Ansett 727 or 737 or maybe both. I think these aircraft used to operate domestically in Australia, when not flying to Vanuatu.

surely this aircraft would be perfect for the return of a Brisbane/Albury nonstop service. Wouldn't have to be daily initially. If anyone wanting to fly between Brisbane & Albury wanted to fly on a day/time when no nonstop, they could simply fly via Sydney as they do now.

Would surely be popular with all those ATO employees at Albury office to get to SE Qld & further north & also for Qld skiers in winter months to get to Victorian ski resorts.

09 Sep 2020

Total posts 4

So where does this leave VA using Alliance aircraft on their planned 41 routes??  Havent heard anything more about it

Alliance will have a huge fleet if they take all 14 x e190s & still have all their fokker jets (they have something around 50 fokker jets, split between 80 seater F70s & 100 seater F100s). The F70s are cheaper to operate apparently, but the F100s are cheaper per seat, so imagine they could easily be swapped around. eg. if a route has only 80 bookings or less, on a day out & back, then can use wither Fokker or e190. if 81+ bookings then only F100 or e190. Obviously this will be planned ahead depending on booking trends.

correction - Alliance might only have 41 Fokker jets in total. Some might be scraped for parts as they get past it (when D check due). Still a very large fleet - think that would mean 3rd largest in Australia, seat capacity wise after Qantas group & Virgin. Much bigger than Rex.


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