Economy is in greys and tans with a seatback power supply and PED holder.

Qantas’ new A220 cabins suggest shift in Australian regional flying


As the sixth and latest aircraft in Qantas’ Indigenous Flying Art showcase series, the Airbus A220-300 — featuring ‘Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa’ by Pitjantjatjara artist Maringka Baker — impresses with its beauty as it flies over the red rocks of Uluru. But the interiors of the QantasLink A220 fleet are also providing an impressive step change to the regional passenger experience across Australia.

The new A220s bring not only the benefit of the wide ex-C Series cabin, large windows and massive bins, but also a new set of business class recliners up front and fully featured economy seats down the back. Recaro Aircraft Seating confirms to Runway Girl Network that these are the seatmaker’s CL4710 in business and BL3710 in economy.

In business the CL4710 is a mechanically actuated recliner, pitched at 37” with a 5” recline. Unusually, the images show an adjustable legrest in all rows. It’s an upgrade on the Boeing 717, but will be inherently less spacious than a 737 or A320 business class equivalent given the size of the cabin. 

Qantas business class features a deep, warm red seat cove

Business class features a deep, warm red seat cover. Image: Qantas

USB-A and -C charging ports are on offer alongside a wireless charging pad, although it is hard to see the interest in offering wireless charging on board an aircraft that operates such short flights, given that wireless remains slow, the risk of a device getting unwittingly knocked off the contact area is very high, and the device can’t be used at all during charging.

In economy, Qantas has plumped for the Recaro BL3710, a decent product for shorter flights and, with the extra seat width generated by the A220 cabin, well placed as a domestic product within Australia in terms of space and comfort.

Qantas economy class seats are pictured in greys and tans with a PED holder.

Economy is in greys and tans with a seatback power supply and PED holder. Image: Qantas

Without seatback inflight entertainment, a sizeable combination device holder and cupholder at eye level will go some way to keeping passengers amused en route. There’s also a full-sized table for those who are hungry and 6-way headrest for anyone needing a nap.

The 29 A220-300s on order are a massive upgrade compared with the older Boeing 717-200 aircraft with Qantas’ Red Roo on the tail, operated under the QantasLink brand by National Jet Systems, formerly known as “Cobham Aviation Services Australia – Airline Services”, which ran the 717 subcontracted flying for some twenty years. The 717 gained traction within Australia first as a rural and remote fly-in-fly-out specialist aircraft thanks to its rear-mounted engines (ideal to avoid ingesting foreign object damage on remote airfields).

FlightRadar24 dates this 717 fleet as between 18 and 24 years old, with most towards the older end of the scale. These old workhorses have been a staple of regional Australia for over two decades, and despite upgraded seats last decade are very much ready for retirement.

The flying that these aircraft do, however, has largely evolved to playing a role in increasing frequency between major east coast Australian cities (especially between Canberra and Sydney/Melbourne) and expanding connectivity to smaller cities from Melbourne in particular.


The A220 with its 10 seats in business and 127 in economy will be an upgrade from the 12 in business and 98 in economy on the 717, while fitting neatly below Qantas mainline’s mainstay 737-800s seating 12 in business and 162 in economy. Those 737s will gradually be replaced by the A220s and, later, A320neo family including the A321XLR variant of the A321neo.

With substantially more A220s on order than there are 717s in operation, part of this move is also likely to be one designed to replace costlier mainline crews with the cheaper National Jet Systems QantasLink operation.

The first A220 flights are being sold for 1 March this year on the Melbourne-Canberra and Melbourne-Brisbane routes, suggesting that this is the first base for the aircraft.

A rendering of the QantasLink A220 in-flight with the new artwork. On the livery, one can see Aboriginal artwork featuring greens, blues and yellows as part of a pointillism pattern.

The next-generation QantasLink A220s, featuring indigenous art, will gradually replace the Boeing 717s currently operating flights across Australia. Image: Qantas

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Featured image credited to Qantas