The Qantas Group’s first Airbus A220 aircraft has started construction, marking a key milestone for the Group as its fleet renewal program ramps up.

The aircraft’s major airframe components, including the centre and rear fuselage, are coming together at Airbus’ production facility in Mirabel, Canada, with the first of 29 aircraft expected to arrive in Australia before the end of the year.

As the first A220 to be operated in Australia, the aircraft will undergo regulatory approvals, airport readiness and training activities before it joins the QantasLink fleet in early 2024.

QantasLink has also commenced training its pilots to operate the new aircraft and the next generation A220s will gradually replace QantasLink’s Boeing 717 fleet which operate routes across Australia.

The first QantasLink A220 will operate flights between Melbourne and Canberra, with subsequent aircraft to be deployed to other parts of the regional and domestic network.

With double the range of the 717, the A220 is also expected to open up new domestic and short-haul international routes as more aircraft enter the fleet.

With production now in full swing, the Qantas Group is calling on Australians to help name its fleet of new A220s, based around the theme ‘native wildlife’.

From today, Australians can nominate up to six names via a dedicated page on A shortlist will then be released so the public can vote for their favourites before the final names are revealed.

Qantas ran a similar competition to name its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet with iconic Australian names in 2017, with more than 10,000 submissions received.

QantasLink CEO, John Gissing, said the production milestone marked an important step in the renewal of the airline’s fleet.

“The A220 represents the next generation in our domestic fleet in terms of passenger comfort, aircraft range and opportunities for our people, so seeing the first aircraft starting to take shape is incredibly exciting,” he said.

“It won’t be long until we need to paint the name on the side of these aircraft, and we want all Australians to help us choose what we call them.

“Our aircraft names have always celebrated what’s special about Australia, from its places, and pioneers to its natural wonders.

“Continuing that tradition, we’re naming our A220 fleet after Australia’s unique and rare wildlife.

“Whether it’s a frilled-neck lizard or feathertail glider, an echidna or emu, we want Australians to help choose some names that showcase some of our country’s favourite native animals, in addition to the one already on the tail, reflecting the diversity and colour of this wonderful place they call home,” Gissing said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management