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Qantas expands 717 domestic network

written by WOFA | July 27, 2016

A QantasLink 717 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas plans to operate more domestic routes with its fleet of Boeing 717s in order to free up 737s for extra overseas flying.

Two-class 717s featuring 12 business and 98 economy seats will be deployed on Adelaide-Brisbane, Brisbane-Townsville and Brisbane-Mt Isa routes, as well as a seasonal Melbourne-Maroochydore (Sunshine Coast) service during December and January, to “match capacity with lower demand”, Qantas said on Wednesday.

This will free up 174-seat (12 business, 162 economy) Boeing 737-800s to add a daily Brisbane-Port Moresby flight and boost Brisbane-Christchurch to daily from three times weekly from October 30. There is also a new daily Melbourne-Christchurch service scheduled to start from December 4.

Qantas recently signed a contract extension worth A$1.2 billion for Cobham Aviation Services to continue to operate the 717 on behalf of QantasLink for a further 10 years.

The new deal has Cobham continuing to supply pilots and cabin crew for QantasLink’s fleet of 20 717s, as well as line maintenance engineering in some locations.

While initially mainly used on regional routes in Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory, Qantas’s announcement on Wednesday continues the airline’s recent move to utilise the 717 fleet on more capital city services.

In 2013 the type was introduced on services to Canberra, while in 2014, QantasLink’s 717s took over Qantas mainline 737s on services from Hobart to Melbourne and Sydney, and some Adelaide-Sydney flights have also switched to the 717.


While Qantas boosts its operations 100-seat aircraft – its 717s have either 110-seats in a two-class configuration or 125 all-economy seats – the reverse is happening at domestic rival Virgin Australia, which is withdrawing its fleet of 98-seat Embraer E190 jets over the next three years as part of fleet simplification and cost reduction efforts.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said recently the airline was looking to buy the 717s it currently had on lease as those leases expired and was on the lookout for further acquisitions in what was a scarce market.

“We’ve been out there hunting for more,” Joyce told reporters in early June.

“They are a great aircraft. If there was a possibility of getting a few more of them, we’d be keen on them.”

Meanwhile, Qantas said it planned to grow its Perth-Singapore offering to double-daily, up from 10 times a week currently, between December and February. The oneworld alliance member was also returning to Bali with seasonal flights from Sydney for a second year.

“The changes are made possible by reductions in domestic capacity, particularly in some regional resources markets, and efficient aircraft utilisation, which has freed up flying time within Qantas’s Boeing 737 fleet,” Qantas said in a statement.

The start of Brisbane-Port Moresby flights would also result in the end of Cairns-Port Moresby services operated by QantasLink Q400 turboprops. Qantas said the change to Brisbane would “better serve the business market”. However, Qantas will continue to place its QF airline code on all of Air Niugini’s Australia-Papua New Guinea flights, including from Port Moresby to Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney.

Also, Qantas said it would add a sixth weekly flight between Sydney and Manila, up from five times a week currently, between December and January. The route is served with Airbus A330 widebodies.


  • Graeme Hooper


    How about freeing up a couple of 737’s from Syd Akl service and replacing with A330’s

  • Ken


    Another gap the 717 could fill is BNE-DRW where QF836/837 only operates 4 days per week. Perhaps 717s could operate BNE-ISA-DRW on the other days?

  • David Gaunt


    How about Gold Coast to Bali, Say once a week like a Friday? Instead of having to go to Brisbane and getting on Jetstar!! You would fill the Qantas flight easy.
    Would be nice to see Australian crew working the flights as well on most flights as Jetstar seem to have overseas crew on all there Bali flights.
    Times have to change sooner or later its a joke having to go to Brisbane for flights now days.

  • KFB


    Qantas could also use their 717’s on the Melbourne-Mildura route. We could use more jets in Mildura.

  • Paule


    Yah! A return of direct flights from Melbourne to Christchurch and not having to use Jetstar! But also, the 717 is a great aircraft: having greater flexibility and superior cabin accommodation is a Win for all involved!

  • Ryan


    I have also heard that some Qantaslink MEL-LST flights this summer will be operated by the 717’s. Can this be confirmed?

  • michael Jones


    I hope Qantas orders Bombardier CRJ 900& 1000 to replace boeing 717

  • Derrick Aguero


    Michael Jones, what is the basis for replacing the 717 fleet? Qantas and other airlines are trying to find more of the 717, on the used market they still command high prices..

  • Peter


    Newcastle to Melbourne and Brisbane would be great for the 717.

  • Christopher Campbell


    Michael Jones would the C series be the best choice to replace F100s and 717s?

  • Norman Dunstan


    They sometimes fly into the gold coast

  • Craigy


    @Michael Jones, @Christopher Campbell. Qantas have already said that there is no place for the C series in the QF fleet because the B717 and F100 are the right aircraft for their operations. As others have stated, Qantas are in the market for more B717s, and they are just adding another 3 F100s to the Qantaslink fleet in WA

  • Greg


    717 are a fine aircraft, although some form of in-flight entertainment would be good … even internet/WiFi streaming service?

  • Harrison Grohn


    The sunshine coast airport isnt called marrochydore anymore

  • john doutch


    The 717’s and incoming F100″s that QF have/will get are low time machines and won’t be replaced any time soon.. I am biased, the 717 to me is one of THE best, and where it’s economically feasible, I hope QF get more. They are a beautiful aircraft to fly.

  • Marc


    717 still a sleek looking craft from the old DC9 days. Good seat layout, quiet rear engines, quick load/unload than the bigger planes. Still a big fave.

  • franz chong


    when does this 717 on adelaide to brisbane take place.i booked virgin thinking it would on the way over be a e190 but they changed it to a 737 with no notice.any help most welcome.

  • Mike


    I’d like to see 717s on MEL-NTL to avoid flying Deathstar.

  • Craigy


    @Franz Chong. The airline isn’t required to tell you that they have changed the aircraft type.

  • Mac Carter


    I am old enough to remember when DC 9’s serviced the Cairns – Townsville – southern ports.
    In those days when Jet fuel was cheap, flight times were less than they are now.
    Look forward to see a return of rear engine aircraft to our region.
    Perhaps a reintroduction of a DC 9 style Cairns / Townsville / Mackay / Rockhampton / Brisbane milk run service.

  • ctj


    Yes I agree the DC9 / 717 is one of the best aircraft types for customer experience … very quiet interior due to rear engines and 5 abreast seating beats 3×3 anyday Long live the 717 !!!!

  • pete


    They maybe a good aircraft ,but they have a hard time sticking to schedules.

  • jcook


    Qantas uses both the Q400 and 717 on the Gladstone to Brisbane run . Where possible I avoid the 717 . On this short run there is no advantage to a Jet . Maybe 5 mins . It comes down to comfort . The Q400 has 2 by 2 seating whereas the 717 is 3 and 2 . the dreaded middle seat . Q400 74 seats the 717 100+ so the service is slower on the 717 and the aisle clogged for longer . the Q400 is quieter . If down the back of the 717 you cant even talk over the jet engine noise when taxying .

  • Red Barron


    Greg has made a good point. I too don’t mind this aircraft when traveling on North QLD routes however every one I have been on has no IFE. Does anyone know if something will be added ????

  • Corey Dark


    Qantas should buy the E-190s off Vergin and use them on existing and new routes. For example new routes from the Sunshine Coast to Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone along with flights to New Castle and Coffs Harbour and Canberra. The 3-5 E-190s would fit in nicely flying those routes from the Sunshine Coast. I bet the QF Sunshine Coast to Melbourne is going to be filled if fact I bet they could fill a 737. Also, another question is if and when QANTAS will retrofit fleet with split scimitar winglets on their 737-800NG fleet and order the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 as the MAX 9 would fit nicely on some routes that could do with extra seats than an 800 but not as much as a wide body B787/A330.

  • JR


    @Mac Carter
    I also recall flying on the DC9 from Cairns to Townsville then to Brisbane back in the day. I don’t remember them doing the full “milk-run” though through Mackay and Rockhampton. I do remember the Fokker Friendships though doing Brisbane – Maryborough – Bundaberg – Gladstone – Rockhampton 🙂

  • Pete


    I like the 717, particularly since the economy cabin needs to be 80% full before someone gets a middle seat.

    Even when fully loaded, it seems significantly less bone-crushing than the horrors of 737 economy.

  • franz chong


    I do recall the days and read up an old TAA timetable where the DC9’s were 5 across when their Ansett Rivals went 3 by 3 on their new 737-200’s in the early 80’s.I might have flown a dc9 or some of my family have over the years prior to Australian with the name change bringing in the 737-300’s.I like them too but these 717’s are the right size for times of day when you don’t always need the 160 to 180 seats of a 738 and wish to avoid jetstar.

  • AlPal


    as any CBR-based flyer will tell you, the B717 has poor reliability – a friend had two B717s go U/S on the one day !

  • Lance


    You say QF is adding a 6th weekly flight to MNL
    When they had 3 flights/week, one would be SYD/BNE/MNL and return on another day
    Now we have 5 flight/week (soon to be 6) and NONE are via BNE.
    This pushes all BNE pax onto other airlines

    This cant make financial sense anymore. BNE has been forgotten!

  • Bob Brinckley


    The introduction of the 717 to the Canberra routes has hardly been a bonus for me.. The older second hand aircraft from my experience seem to be having a higher rate of going U/S.. Paxing on a genuine QF crewed flight out of Canberra is now becoming very difficult.

  • Zachary Clark


    I would love to see the 717s or any other jets operate to Port Macquarie. Being my home town airport it’s pretty pathetic how you can only fly direct to SYD or BNE and that’s it. And on a turboprop.

  • I have been doing some further digging around on the Boeing 787 Orders to try to see just when we are likely to see those elusive 8 new 787-9 for the main line Qantas operation. Assuming they have been ordered with the same engine configuration as the Jetstar operated 787-8, the absolute earliest delivery would be airframe 601 due for delivery on 31st August 2017 (thats another 13 months from now). Just think how much extra passenger loss we will have by then to other airlines using 787 or A350 XWB aircraft on routes to Australia. Looking again at available slots for the remaining 7 x787-9 aircraft and assuming all GE engine slots are available the earliest completion date for 8th 787 would be 10th October 2017 with airframe 617 (and that assumes no other airline is getting those aircraft) and that would mean 1 in August 2017, 5 in September 2017 and 3 in October 2017. Come on Qantas surely you have now already had 3 years of Jetstar operations to prove the viability of the 787 aircraft. Isn’t it about time your ordered some more airframes??

  • Rons47


    Read the story Hawaiin airlines ceo gave the saying there is no plane in production or on the drawing board that can replace the 717 they do 16 cycles a day on there routes

  • Vannus


    To JR…….

    I fondly remember flying on the Fokker Friendship F27, in 1970, on a real ‘milk run’.
    Bris-Mackay-TSV-Cairns-Pt Moresby-LAE-Madang-Wewak, & return, reverse route.
    I overnighted Port, due schedules on way ‘up’, but all the way home in one day!

    AND I didn’t ‘double-up’ on ANY Registration of the ‘Fokkers’!

    I really hated the DC-9’s, as way too noisy, as I usually copped a rear row seat!

    One aircraft I really miss is the beautiful, powerful Lockheed ‘Electra’ L-188C.
    Their interstate Capital Cities’ flight duration equalled the Boeing 727.
    And they were a dream to fly in!
    At least I get to see them in their ‘military guise’ as ‘Orion’, & ‘Hercules’!

  • Wayne


    Used to have the choice of at least 2. X. 737. Flights Perth to Broome daily , sometimes more . Now with less seats the price has gone up massively and frequent flyer seats are as rare as rocking horse poo . We had a better service 10 years ago . No progress here .just going backwards

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