Published on November 2nd, 2020 | by Alan Dwyer0
End of an Era as Cityjet’s Last Avro leaves the Fleet
Ever since Cityjet started operations back in 1994, the airline operations has been synonymous with the four engined ‘Whisperjet’. Firstly, they started with two British Aerospace BAe-146’s and operated over 30 before going for the upgraded version known as the Avro RJ-85 which they operated 27 aircraft over the years.
CityJet’s final RJ85, registration EI-RJF, departed Dublin just before 11am this morning bound for Reykjavik in Iceland en route to its new home in the United States for conversion into a “water bomber” to combat forest fires. It joins 10 of its former CityJet sister ships which have already crossed the Atlantic for this purpose with Aero Flite Inc, based in Spokane, Washington. EI-RJF was built in 1999 and joined CityJet in 2007 as part of a batch of 27 Avro RJ-85’s purchased from US airline Mesaba.
CityJet was founded in 1993 and pioneered services between Dublin and London City Airport in January 1994 using the four-engined jet under a franchise agreement with Virgin Atlantic. Over the following decades, CityJet operated the aircraft on a network of routes from London City Airport and for Air France out of Paris, with over 50 of the type serving with CityJet during this period. CityJet’s last passenger flight on the 95-seat RJ85 was on March 24th of this year from London City Airport to Dublin on behalf of Aer Lingus.
Pat Byrne, Executive Chairman of CityJet commented: “Today is a momentous day as we bid farewell to an aircraft which has always been part of the fabric of CityJet. For almost 30 years, the Avro BAe146 and RJ85 fleet has served us well, and for some there were a few tears shed today when RJF departed for the last time. We are now looking to the future as we grow our services on more modern aircraft, but there will always be a place in our hearts for the venerable Avro’s.”
The CityJet Avro fleet flew over 475,000 flights and 580,000 hours with CityJet since 1993, equivalent to 67 years in the air and a distance approximating to around 1,000 times to the moon. As part of its fleet modernisation programme, CityJet has progressively reduced its 95-seat RJ85 fleet and now has 20 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets in service. As well as the 146/RJ85’s in the fleet, Cityjet have also operated the BAe ATP, SAAB 2000’s, Fokker 50’s, Dornier Do.328 and the Sukhoi Superjet’s
Two of the Avro’s will remain in Europe, with EI-RJZ having been donated to the Irish Air Corps as a ground trainer. It was flown from Dublin Airport over to Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel on 17th April and decommissioned. It has been moved around various locations in Baldonnel on training missions. EI-RJN was recently donated to the City of Norwich Aviation Museum and was moved to their premises adjacent to the airport during the past week. The aircraft had been stored at Norwich Airport since February 2019.