QantasLink finally begins A220 operations as first two aircraft enter service  - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

The Qantas Group has officially begun commercial Airbus A220 operations, with its first two aircraft entering passenger service with regional subsidiary QantasLink on March 1. 2024. According to the airline, the entry into service of the brand new narrowbody twinjets “heralds a new era of domestic and regional travel for Australians”.

The second aircraft delivered to the carrier, registered VH-X4B and named ‘Koala’, kicked off proceedings by operating the inaugural Qantas A220 service as QF1266 from Melbourne (MEL) to Canberra (CBR). This first flight carried airline officials, revenue passengers and aviation enthusiasts on the historic service.

The airline’s second A220 flight was operated by the first A220 to be delivered to the airline, which arrived in December 2023. Registered VH-X4A, named ‘Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa’ and sporting its striking Indigenous livery (as reported by AeroTime here), it made its commercial passenger debut shortly afterward, operating QF1268, also from Melbourne to Canberra.

Initially, both aircraft are expected to be utilized on the trunk routes between Melbourne and the Australian capital city of Canberra, as well as services to the Queensland city of Brisbane (BNE). However, this will change over time as more of the type enter the fleet.

The first two aircraft, both A220-300s, will gradually replace its long-serving fleet of Boeing 717s as part of the Qantas Group’s domestic fleet renewal program. The aircraft is significantly more fuel-efficient than previous-generation aircraft. With almost double the range of the Boeing 717s it has been brought in to replace, the A220 can fly between any two points in Australia as well as to several offshore destinations, creating new route options for the future.

QantasLink CEO Rachel Yangoyan said the A220 would “change the way people traveled around the country”.

“These next-generation aircraft are going to make a real difference for customers traveling across our network so it’s great to see it launch commercial flights from today,” Yangoyan said. “The A220 is more comfortable, offering a greater sense of space and fast and free Wi-Fi for every customer. The aircraft are also quieter and generate up to 25% fewer carbon emissions, which is critical as we work towards our net zero targets,” she added.

“We know many of our customers have been waiting for the opportunity to travel on the new aircraft, just as our QantasLink teams have been looking forward to flying them. We saw a spike in bookings on these routes when we identified them as the first A220 flights last week. It was a great response from many customers who clearly wanted to be among the first to experience our new A220,” Yangoyan concluded.

The carrier’s third A220 is currently in production at Airbus’ facility in Mirabel, Canada, and is due to be delivered in June 2024. Another four A220s are scheduled to be delivered by mid-2025. Each aircraft features seating for 137 passengers across two cabins, with 10 Business seats in a two-by-two configuration and 127 seats in Economy in a two-by-three configuration.

As more aircraft are delivered to QantasLink, the A220 will be deployed across other existing routes including Melbourne to Hobart (HBA) from July 2024, Melbourne to Coffs Harbour (CFS) from October 2024, and Melbourne to Launceston (LST) from November 2024.

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