Sydney | Published on 20th December 2023 at 12:11

The first QantasLink Airbus A220 aircraft landed in Sydney today, marking the next phase in the Group’s fleet renewal program.

The aircraft, which features a special indigenous livery, was ferried from Airbus’ facility in Mirabel, Canada, and touched down at midday after stops in Vancouver, Honolulu and Nadi (Fiji).

It is the first of 29 A220s that will be delivered to QantasLink as part of the Group’s domestic fleet renewal program. A further 36 widebody aircraft are also on order.

The A220s have double the range of the Boeing 717s they replace, giving them the ability to fly non-stop between any two points in Australia. As the first aircraft of their type in Australia, the 137 seat aircraft are expected to open up new (direct) domestic and short-haul international routes as more enter the fleet.

Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson said the A220 would unlock improvements ranging from lower emissions to less noise and better passenger comfort.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome this new A220 aircraft, along with the benefits it will bring to our customers and career opportunities for our people,” said Ms Hudson.

“The size and range of the A220 means we can add new direct routes to our network that may not have been commercially viable before.

“More fuel efficient aircraft is one way we’re working towards net zero and the A220 generates around 25 per cent fewer carbon emissions than the previous generation as well as being much quieter.

“This arrival marks the start of the biggest domestic fleet renewal program in Qantas’ history as the Group takes delivery of one new aircraft every three weeks on average over the next few years.

“On the back of this fleet investment we’re recruiting more pilots, cabin crew and engineers and expect to create around 8500 local jobs over the next decade,” added Ms Hudson.

As the first A220 to be operated in Australia, the aircraft, registered as VH-X4A, will undergo regulatory approvals, airport readiness and crew familiarisation and training activities before it commences flying on the Melbourne-Canberra route in the first quarter of 2024. A dedicated A220 flight simulator for pilot training is based in Melbourne.

The aircraft rolled out of the paint shop last month with a complex livery as the latest addition to Qantas’ longstanding Flying Art Series. Qantas worked with Leading Indigenous Australian design agency, Balarinji, the Copyright Agency and Tjungu Palya Art Centre to reproduce senior Pitjantjatjara artist Maringka Baker’s painting Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa (Two Sisters Creation Story) for the aircraft.

“The striking livery captured the attention of customers, employees and aviation enthusiasts around the world and we are proud that our first A220 aircraft continues our decades long tradition of showcasing First Nations art and culture through the Flying Art series,” added Ms Hudson.

Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa is the thirteenth new aircraft delivered to the Group in the past 12 months, including nine Airbus A321LR aircraft for Jetstar and three Boeing 787 Dreamliners for Qantas International. More deliveries of multiple aircraft types are expected in the next 12 months, including the first Airbus A321XLR for Qantas Domestic as the Boeing 737 is steadily retired.

The second A220 is currently on the final assembly line and will be delivered in January 2024. Another five A220s are scheduled to be delivered between January 2024 and mid-2025.

QantasLink Airbus A220 Facts

  • The QantasLink A220 seats 137 passengers in a two-cabin configuration with 10 Business seats and 127 seats in Economy.
  • Replacing the Boeing 717, the A220s will mostly connect smaller capital cities like Canberra and Hobart with larger cities like Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
  • The A220 has almost double the range of the 717 at over 6,000 kilometres, meaning it can fly between any city in Australia. The aircraft burns 25 per cent less fuel per seat and CO2 compared to previous generation aircraft.
  • The public was invited to help name the new A220 fleet after Australian native wildlife. (The first aircraft, as part of the Flying Art Series, is an exception to the A220 naming convention).

Click here to access photos and vision of the QantasLink A220.