Video: QantasLink’s first Airbus A220 arrives in striking indigenous livery

by James Wilkinson

The first QantasLink Airbus A220 aircraft has arrived in Sydney this week (Dec 20, 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.

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,” she said.

“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,” Hudson said.

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.

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,” Hudson said.

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, while another five A220s are scheduled to be delivered between January 2024 and mid-2025.