Qantas today announced it had purchased Cobham Aviation Services Australia (formerly National Jet Systems) for an undisclosed sum from parent company Cobham Plc, with the airline having been for sale since mid-2019. Cobham currently operates 20 Boeing 717-200s on behalf of QantasLink, although the operation of these aircraft will now be brought in-house to Qantas because of today's acquisition.
A QantasLink Boeing 717. Source:Qantas
Since their introduction into the Qantas Group from the acquisition of Australian low-cost carrier Impulse Airlines in 2001, the Boeing 717 has been an integral part of the Qantas fleet operating firstly for low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, before being transferred to QantasLink in 2005. Since then, they have remained an important part of the fleet, operating everything from mining charters between remote airstrips to trunk routes on the east coast of Australia, such as the popular Brisbane to Sydney and Brisbane to Melbourne sectors.
According to QantasLink CEO John Gissing, "The B717s provide us with flexibility to service many segments of the domestic market, including regional routes, fly-in fly- out operations or more frequencies to capital cities. These are the kind of routes where travel demand is likely to recover first."
The Qantas 717s are the last remaining member of the QantasLink fleet to be brought in house after the purchase of QantasLink Fokker 100 operator Network Aviation in 2011. QantasLink CEO John Gissing also stated that today's purchase provided it more certainty in regards to the future of the 717 fleet whilst stressing that this was a back of office change that would not be noticed by customers. However, pilots and cabin crew operating the 717 fleet would be officially joining the Qantas Group, which Cobham CEO Kim Gillis likened to being "brought home", also saying that she was proud of the companies ongoing partnership with the Qantas Group, Australia's largest airline family.