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Back to the future as reborn DC-9 returns to Canberra

written by WOFA | November 22, 2013

VH-YQS was presented to media in Canberra on Friday.
VH-YQS was presented to media in Canberra on Friday.

For 20 years the DC-9 was a staple of Qantas’s domestic predecessors TAA/Australian Airlines’ services to Canberra before the type was retired in 1989, but the modern incarnation of this fondly remembered jet, the Boeing 717, has touched down in the nation’s capital as Qantas re-arms for the hotly contested Canberra corporate market.

Qantas’s QantasLink subsidiary is introducing five newly acquired 717s to replace the parent company’s retiring 737-400s on services out of Canberra to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with the first, VH-YQS, entering service on Tuesday. The 717s, although acquired second-hand (the 717 has been out of production since 2006) are being configured with a brand new, two-class interior that takes up the competitive fight to Virgin Australia’s E-Jets which also serve the capital (with the two airlines’ jet services complemented by Q400 and ATR 72 turboprop services, respectively).

The 110-seat 717 interior features a four-abreast business class cabin with the leather seats boasting a claimed one-inch extra seat pitch and greater width compared to Virgin’s E-190s, with a new slimline design seat in the five-abreast economy class cabin. Inflight entertainment is also provided to every passenger via iPads (in business) and iPad Minis (in economy) and Qantas’s QStreaming content streaming service. QantasLink is also promising a “premium” food and drinks service.

The 717 business class.
The 717 business class.

The 717s are the first QantasLink aircraft configured with business class since the retirement of its BAe 146s, and join 14 already in QantasLink service which feature all-economy configurations and used predominantly in WA. The 717s are operated for QantasLink by  Cobham Aviation Services, with the cabin reconfiguration work undertaken at Cobham’s Adelaide Airport base.



  • Rodney Marinkovic


    Smart solution to get achievement with this nice aircraft.

  • Bob Brinckley


    Great marketing exercise. However they are older aircraft replacing what has been in the main in recent times the more modern B737-800’s. Also for those that support QF because of their great safety record the chances of your flight out of the nations capital being operated by a QF mainline crew now reducing to about 10%. The remaining flights being contracted to Cobram or QF subsideries.

  • Raymond


    Nice to read that the reconfiguration work was undertaken in Australia.

  • random


    I would expect that these might end up also flying into the new Toowoomba (Brisbane West Wellcamp) airport from places like Newcastle and Canberra. Hard to see QF and VA passing up an opportunity in this relatively untapped market.

  • Greg Hyde


    Never keep a good old jet down !!

    Long live the DC-9

  • Patrick Kilby


    Bob they are replacing 737-400s not 737-800s.The 734s are very old indeed!!!

  • John Reid


    In mid-October 2013, I was awaiting my QF flight out of Canberra in the middle of the day and watched tarmac staff checking out the operation of a 717 at each of the gate lounges, verifying that the alignment marks were in the right place etc, and then tractoring the a/c to the next lounge and doing it again. Great fun – I just wish I could have heard the soundtrack….

    As someone said, DC-9 rules. While resident in Rome, I flew on lots of Alitalia MD-80 series (and, in 1994, on a real DC-9-30 which must have been quite elderly). Now, if only someone would do a re-engineering job on the 727!

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