The first Airbus A220-300 destined for service with Qantas Group is in production at the airframer’s factory in Mirabel, Canada.

Key assemblies such as the centre and rear fuselage are coming together, with the aircraft expected to arrive by the end of 2023, says Qantas.

As this will be the first A220-300 to operate in Australia, it will undergo regulatory approvals before joining regional unit QantasLink in early 2024. QantasLink pilots are also training for the type.

The aircraft will initially operate on the Melbourne-Canberra route, with subsequent airframes to connect smaller cities with Australia’s big hub airports: Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Qantas has orders for 29 A220-300s. It placed firm orders for 20 examples in 2022, and firmed nine additional orders at the Paris air show in June. The company has purchase rights for additional examples.

By the end of 2024, Qantas expects to have seven A220-300s in service, with all 29 on-order aircraft in service by 2027.

Equipped with 10 business and 127 economy seats, the type will replace Qantaslink’s Boeing 717 fleet.

The type is powered exclusively by Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines.

The A220-300 order is part of the Qantas Group’s fleet modernization programme, which also includes the A350-1000 and A321XLR.