Back to the bad old days?


Former Air New Zealand BAe 146 ZK-NZI

BAe 146 ZK-NZI is one of five former Air New Zealand stored at Melbourne’s Essendon Airport (George Canciani)

In the early 1990s, pictures of lines of BAe 146s stored in the desert were a major embarrassment for BAe. So when Airclaims data showed 45 BAe 146s as being parked recently, it was natural to fear that the bad old days were back. The numbers, however, are not quite as bad as that. The number of 146s parked never reached 45. Moreover, several aircraft that had been parked have returned to the air. The largest single group of stored 146s are the twelve Ansett aircraft (seven series 200s, two series 200QTs, and three series 300s), grounded when the airline went bankrupt. Some have since operated some charters, but all are now back on the ground, at various airports across Australia (one is in New Zealand, where she had been undergoing maintenance). In the same part of the world, six Air New Zealand series 300s are also in storage, at Essendon and Tullamarine. These former Qantas New Zealand aircraft are owned by Air New Zealand, who leased four to its Mount Cook subsidiary; two remain with that carrier. Another bankruptcy led to the four National Jet Italia series 300s being placed in storage. All four are now at Exeter. Also at Exeter are two series 200s that had been operated by bmi regional until they lost their contract with Lufthansa, and three former Malmö Aviation series 200s. Over at Southend, a former Flightline series 200 has been in storage for almost a year. Another three series 200s and a series 300 of the same airline were also stored there, following the loss of the Swissair Express contract, but all are now flying again. Across the Atlantic, four of AirBC‘s five series 200s are parked at Vancouver, a casualty of Air Canada’s post-11 September cutbacks. Air Nova‘s five series 200s were also to be parked, but only one was, the others remaining in operation. Finally, Air Botswana‘s series 100 is in storage at Gaborone, and Air Zimbabwe‘s series 200 is essentially derelict at Harare. The total number of 146s currently in storage is thus 35. Presumably, Airclaim’s count included all ten AirBC and Air Nova aircraft that Air Canada had announced would be parked, and the four Flightline aircraft that were parked briefly. The count is set to fall to 28 when all the AirBC and Air Nova aircraft return to the air, and the two former bmi Regional aircraft return to British Regional Airlines. Rumors indicate that two of the former NJI aircraft will soon be sold, which would reduce the count further. On the other hand, the last two series 300s in service with Mount Cook will soon be parked, and the two series 200s still in bmi regional service might also be parked. Even so, the count in stored aircraft is well below that given by AirClaims. It is interesting to note that all the stored aircraft are 146s. There isn’t a single Avro RJ in the list of stored aircraft, although one airBaltic RJ70 is used only as a backup and is being offered for sale or lease.

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