Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) has expanded its capacity purchase deal with Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int'l) to now include a total of eighteen optioned E190 jets.

Under the original three-year agreement signed in February, Alliance agreed to provide QantasLink with three E190s based in Adelaide and Darwin with options to access 11 more for a total of 14 of the Embraer regional jets.

However, given the strong demand for travel between Australia's regional centres with smaller capital cities, coupled with the need for greater frequencies instead of larger singular capacity, Qantas has exercised its option to call up five additional aircraft. This brings the total number of aircraft activated under the agreement to eight.

According to Alliance Air, the additional aircraft will be based out of Adelaide and will commence operating for Qantas from June 21, 2021. Each option is for an initial three-year period, and the remaining options are all still in place and can be exercised by Qantas in the future.

"Of this, three are already flying, with another five to enter service by October," Qantas said in a statement. "The E190s will be painted in QantasLink livery and are part of Qantas growing its domestic capacity to at least 107% of pre-COVID levels in Financial Year 2022."

Qantas can adjust the number of Embraer jets it recruits depending on capacity, thereby better matching market fluctuations. In addition to being used to open up new regional routes, the jets will also replace QantasLink's B717-200s and B737-800s on select routes where greater daily frequencies present a more commercially viable option.

“The E190 is a perfect mid-size regional jet for routes like these ones in northern Australia. It has longer range than our B717s, and it’s about half the size of our B737s, which means the economics work well on longer flights between cities and towns outside of the top five population centres," it said.

“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."