Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int'l) took delivery of its first ERJ 190-100AR on October 28, 2020, as it gears up for the renewal of its Fokker Aircraft fleet and eyes expanded cooperation with Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int'l).

N922QQ (msn 19000222), an 11.5-year-old regional jet previously operated by Copa Airlines (CM, Panamá City Tocumen Int'l), was ferried from San José Juan Santamaría via San Diego Brown Field, Honolulu, and Tarawa to Brisbane Int'l, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows. The aircraft will be re-registered as VH-UYZ in Australia.

The Embraer jet is the first of 14 which Alliance Airlines has acquired from Azorra Aviation. It has a further five options for the same type. Alliance Airlines has yet to schedule the commercial debut of the E190.

The carrier said in August that the E190s will be used to renew its all-Fokker fleet, without going into details about the scale of phase-outs. Currently, Alliance Airlines operates twenty-four Fokker 100s, five Fokker 50s, and thirteen Fokker 70s, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

Shortly before its E190 delivery flight, Alliance Airlines joined Virgin Australia in applying to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for authorisation to coordinate regional flights.

The two carriers already cooperate with Alliance Airlines wet-leasing two F70s to Virgin Australia International (VA, Brisbane Int'l) for its 2x daily Brisbane-Gladstone flights. A more comprehensive wet-lease agreement was in place prior to the near-grounding of Virgin Australia in March 2020, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Alliance Airlines' network of in-house scheduled flights is wholly independent of Virgin Australia's operations, with the only exception being a limited one-way codeshare agreement covering four Alliance Airlines' routes out of Brisbane. Subject to ACCC authorisation, this could change going forward.

The applicants said that increased cooperation would "assist in ensuring the long-term survival of an efficient and vigorous competitor for Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith)". Alliance Airlines and Virgin Australia noted that while there was limited overlap between their scheduled networks, there was the potential for optimisation of routes currently operated on a scheduled basis under the Regular Public Transport (RPT) framework by Virgin (some of which are currently suspended) and charter flights operated by Alliance Airlines.

"The Proposed Conduct will enable the Applicants to resume RPT services to support the whole community and consider how best to service such routes in the long term, whether using wet-lease, codeshare or other risk-sharing arrangements. [It] will provide the opportunity to implement more efficient patterning of aircraft between existing Alliance Airlines charter flights and Virgin Australia RPT flights which will allow aircraft to be redeployed onto other routes, or increased frequencies to be provided on existing routes," the airlines said.

The two airlines applied for an expedited interim go-ahead to be issued by October 30, 2020, to allow for the immediate commencement of cooperation. Virgin noted that this was paramount to preserving the carrier's competitive position against Qantas and to prevent the larger airline's entrenchment in a market without a sizeable competitor.

The airlines are looking to cooperate on a total of 42 routes, of which they currently compete on only one (Brisbane-Proserpine). A further 12 routes are served by Virgin Australia (including two services out of Brisbane, six out of Perth Int'l, two out of Adelaide, and one each out of Sydney Kingsford Smith and Melbourne Tullamarine); while Alliance Airlines operates five routes (four out of Brisbane and Adelaide). A further six routes out of Brisbane and the Mount Isa-Cloncurry, QL route used to be operated by Virgin with aircraft wet-leased from Alliance Airlines but are currently suspended. The remaining 18 routes (including four out of Brisbane, two out of Alice Springs, three out of Cairns, one out of Canberra, five out of Sydney, and three out of Melbourne) are currently served neither by Virgin Australia nor Alliance Airlines.