The first of 14 Embraer E190 destined for service with Alliance Airlines landed in Brisbane yesterday. The jet departed from Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport on Tuesday afternoon (local time) for the long flight to Brisbane via Brown Field Municipal Airport near San Diego. The plane then touched down in Honolulu, and Bonriki Airport in Kiribati, before the final leg to Brisbane. After that odyssey, the Embraer landed in the Queensland capital on Thursday afternoon (local time).
First of 14 Embraers touches down in Brisbane
Alliance’s new Embraers are coming from Panama’s Copa Airlines. The planes are said to have cost Alliance US$79 million. That price was rumored to be around half the earlier asking price. There’s also an option to buy five more planes.
“This fleet acquisition represents another milestone for Alliance and is a result of many years of considered planning,” said Alliance Airlines’ MD Scott McMillan in August.
“With many airlines not flying and the increased demand for a 100 seat narrowbody configured aircraft in the Australian market, this acquisition is more than opportunistic; it underpins our expected growth.”
The Embraers open up new opportunities for Alliance Airlines
The purchase opens new opportunities for an airline that’s built a solid reputation on the back of an all Fokker fleet. Alliance Airlines is one of the biggest Fokker operators in the world. It has corned the market in Fokker parts and spares. The sturdy Dutch made aircraft have proved surprisingly good at handling some of the tough environments Alliance sends its planes into.
But there hasn’t been a new Fokker made for over 20 years. That’s seen Alliance Airlines look elsewhere for new planes.
“With limited Fokker aircraft acquisition opportunities, it was also the time to acquire a newer aircraft in order to position us for our next growth phase,” said Mr McMillan.
Alliance Airlines bucks the aviation trend in 2020
This year, Alliance Airlines is proving one of the outliers in the airline industry. For the local financial year ending June 30, the airline posted a US$28.6 million profit before tax. That’s not an enormous sum in the airline game, but a profit sure beats a loss.
Alliance has bucked the trend this year by having a travel downturn resistant operating strategy that includes extensive charter, and fly-in-fly-out contract work in addition to regular passenger services.
The charter and fly-in-fly-out work, mostly to isolated mine sites, continued this year as other airline industry markets collapsed. In fact, as regular passenger services got cut, resource and mining customers turned to Alliance Airlines to charter planes and draw up on-going contracts to get their workers to worksites. Charter revenue almost doubled in the year to June 30, and contract work revenue was up by a quarter.
Another possible revenue stream for Alliance Airlines
There’s another handy bit of business for Alliance Airlines on the horizon. Both it and Virgin Australia have asked Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission for permission to co-operate on regional flights. Alliance Airlines will wet lease planes to Virgin Australia, running them on routes too small for Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737-800s. These are routes a Fokker 100 or Embraer E190 might do nicely on. The word is Qantas won’t object, so the application should get through without any issues.
With the first Embraer safely on the ground in Brisbane, the pilots that ferried the plane across the Pacific are tired but pleased with a job well done. Aviation services provider Southern Cross International said it was a huge project to get the plane over to Brisbane. A spokesperson told Simple Flying;
“It was our pleasure to bring the first Embraer. It asked for much time and effort to get it done. But hard work pays off.”
After that hard work, it’s going to be interesting to see if the Embraers work as well for Alliance Airlines as the Fokkers do.