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Tue, Mar 27, 2007

QantasLink Expands Fleet To 11 Planes

Airline Says Move Will Create 122 Jobs

Australia's QantasLink announced Monday it would expand its Boeing 717-200 fleet from eight to 11 aircraft, as part of a renewed operating agreement with National Jet Systems (NJS).

Qantas' General Manager for Regional Airlines, Narendra Kumar, told ANN the move would increase QantasLink's total jet and turboprop fleet to 49 aircraft. This will allow it to increase frequency and capacity on routes in Western Australia, Northern Territory and north Queensland.

QantasLink is comprised of three different regional airlines -- Airlink, Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Airlines -- and currently flies Boeing 717 jets and DeHavilland Dash-8 turboprops

"This is an exciting development for QantasLink that will increase our jet aircraft capacity by nearly 40 per cent and reinforce our commitment to investing in and growing the Qantas Group's regional operations," Kumar said. "To be based in Perth, the first of the three additional 115-seat aircraft will commence operation in August 2007. Route options for the other two aircraft, which will enter service in October 2007, are still being assessed.

"QantasLink entered into an agreement with NJS in 2005 to operate the airline's B717 services, and we are pleased that this partnership will be extended by five years and include the operation of these three additional aircraft," he said.

QantasLink is also commencing a program with NJS and Rolls-Royce to increase B717 engine thrust from 18,500 lbs to 21,000 lbs per engine, which will improve passenger-carrying performance in the hot conditions encountered at some ports across the airline's network.

QantasLink currently operates around 2,000 flights each week, serving 49 destinations across Australia.

Kumar said NJS had provided pilots, cabin crew and aircraft maintenance engineers for Qantas' regional jet operations for more than 15 years. The new aircraft additions will provide 122 additional employment opportunities for the airline industry, said Kumar.

"The three new aircraft will require the services of an additional 39 pilots, 59 cabin crew and 24 engineers," he added.



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