QantasLink’s first Airbus A220 aircraft has rolled out of Airbus’ paintshop in Mirabel, Canada, featuring a striking new Aboriginal-inspired livery.
The aircraft, which is set to arrive in Australia before the end of the year, is the first of 29 Airbus A220s that will be delivered to Qantas as part of its domestic fleet renewal program. The type will replace ageing Boeing 717s, which continue to break down across the country.
This will be the fourth new aircraft delivered to Qantas in the past 12 months, in addition to the eight Airbus A321neoLR jets received by Jetstar within that same time. Further deliveries of multiple next-generation aircraft are expected in the next year, including the first Airbus A321XLR which will slowly replace Qantas 737-800s.
Over the past six months, this first QantasLink A220 aircraft has come together at Airbus’ Mirabel facility, with key components produced in other factories around the world, including wings from the United Kingdom.
Qantaslink’s first A220 has spent the last two weeks being painted in an Indigenous scheme, making this the sixth livery and seventh aircraft to join the national carrier’s Flying Art Series. Leading design agency, Balarinji, has worked with Qantas to create fuselage designs for each Indigenous livery, in collaboration with First Nations artists.
The latest Flying Art Series livery features the artwork of Maringka Baker and tells the Dreaming story of two sisters who traverse remote Australia together, covering vast distances to find their way home. Following the tradition of Qantas’ Flying Art series, the aircraft is named “Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa” after the artwork, which means “the two sisters creation story”.
Around 100 painters were involved in completing the livery, with te Airbus teams utilising 130 stencils to replicate the detailed design. It features over 20,000 dots and is the most complex livery Airbus has completed on the A220.
Qantas Group CEO, Vanessa Hudson, said the QantasLink A220s would be a game changer for domestic and regional travel.
“These aircraft have the potential to change the way our customers travel across the country, with the ability to connect any two cities or towns in Australia,” said Ms Hudson.
The first A220 will be fitted with Qantas-specific products and undergo a series of test flights with Airbus before being officially handed over by the end of the year. By mid-2025, QantasLink should have a total of seven Airbus A220s.
In this post:
Qantas Flying Art Series Aircraft
- Wunala Dreaming, meaning kangaroo in the Yanyuwa language, celebrated the ceremony tracks of the kangaroo spirit ancestors and the continuation of all living things in the harmony of nature. This artwork appeared on two 747-400, VH-OEJ and VH-OJB, from 1994 until 2003.
- Nalanji Dreaming, meaning “Our Place” appeared on B747-300 VH-EBU from 1995 until the aircraft was retired in 2005.
- Yananyi Dreaming drew the dramatic country surrounding Uluru and was painted on Boeing 737-800 VH-VXB in 2002, before the jet was repainted in the standard livery in 2014.
- Mendoowoorrji is an interpretation of the painting ‘Medicine Pocket’ painted on B737-800 VH-XZJ from 2013.
- Emily Kame Kngwarreye was inspired by artwork ‘Yam Dreaming’ painted by Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The painting captures the essence of the yam plant, an important symbol in Emily’s Dreamtime story. The livery first appeared on B787-9 VH-ZND in 2018.
- Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa translates to “the two sisters creation story”, and is painted on QantasLink A220 VH-X4A
What We Know About The QantasLink A220
QantasLink’s A220 Cabins
The QantasLink A220 will accommodate 137 passengers, 25% more than the Boeing 717 it will replace. Business class welcomes ten passengers in a 2-2 configuration, staggered with two rows on the left (lettered A/C) and three rows on the right (lettered D/F).
Because the Red Roo has squeezed in an extra row of business, the 127-seat economy cabin is also staggered. The good news is, just like the 717, the A220 boasts a 2-3 configuration in economy, meaning there are only twenty-five middle seats onboard. On the left, A/C seats have twenty-six rows, while D/E/F seats on the right have twenty-five rows.
As far as the seats themselves, Qantas is keeping their cards close to the chest. However, we expect to see a very similar seat to the Recaro CL3810 that is to be fitted to Qantas’ Airbus A350 jets. While there won’t be any seatback screens, it is easy to assume Qantas will deploy a device holder alongside USB-A and USB-C charging ports.
At the pointy end, Flight Hacks expects Qantas to opt for the Recaro CL4710. Again, no seatback screens are expected, but device holders, improved storage, calfrests and footrests are welcome enhancements. The latest-generation USB-A and USB-C charging ports, plus a wireless charging pad, wouldn’t be a surprise.
Where Will The A220 Fly?
While QantasLink’s A220 fleet grows, the jet will mostly connect smaller capital cities including Canberra and Hobart, with the three major hubs of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The first passenger route will operate between Canberra and Melbourne, followed by Canberra and Brisbane shortly thereafter. But before welcoming passengers, Qantas’ new small jet must complete a number of activities. As this is the first Australian A220, Qantas will spend several weeks flying around to build experience for its ground, cabin and flight crews. In addition, Australia’s very fun Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) must observe flights and evacuation drills for regulatory approval.
Once the fleet is up and running, Qantas can take full advantage of the 6,300km range of the A220-300. As CEO Venessa Hudson mentioned, the jet has double the endurance of the Boeing 717.
“you could see us being able to operate a 220 between Brisbane and Broome, Perth-Brisbane [and] Adelaide up into north Queensland,” says Hudson.
That range even brings New Zealand and a large portion of South-East Asia into the equation, where the new A220 could launch several international routes that lack the demand for a large jet.
Qantas’ First Alphanumeric Registration
As was revealed today, the first QantasLink A220 wears the registration VH-X4A. This is the first Qantas Group aircraft to bear a combination of numbers and letters in its registration.
The registrations of the first twenty A220s will run in sequence from VH-X4A to VH-X4T, followed by VH-X5A to VH-X5I for the further nine jets.