Pioneer BAe 146 operator hits 15-year mark

Air Wisconsin, the second airline to place the BAe 146 into service, will celebrate 15 years of BAe 146 operations on 27 June. Air Wisconsin was the launch customer for the BAe 146, its order for four series 200s, with options on a further four, being announced at the roll-out of the first BAe 146. Air Wisconsin took delivery of its first aircraft, series 200 N601AW, on 16 June 1983. This aircraft flew Air Wisconsin’s first service on 27 June 1983. At the time, Air Wisconsin was operating under its own colors. Its close association with United Airlines later developed into a full code-sharing arrangement in 1985, with all Air Wisconsin aircraft being repainted in United Express colors. Air Wisconsin eventually took up all four of the options it had placed with its initial order, and then ordered a further two series 200s, giving it a ten-aircraft fleet. The BAe 146s were instrumental in Air Wisconsin’s rapid growth. From 1985 to 1989, it was the largest regional airline in the USA, in terms of passengers carried. Air Wisconsin was also the first airline to order the stretched series 300, the first of which arrived on 16 December 1988, and the first to place it into service. The airline’s take-over of fellow United Express operator Aspen in 1990 then added several series 100s to the fleet. Over the years, Air Wisconsin has had its ups and downs; its relationship with partner United was at times strained and eventually resulted in a complete takeover of the airline by United. In 1993, the airline’s jet operations were sold to CJT Holdings and Air Wisconsin resumed its independence, though the relationship with United continued. The airline has since added several more series 200s to its fleet, most recently by acquiring three former Atlantic Southeast Airlines aircraft on lease from BAe-AMJ. In 1996, Air Wisconsin announced a major effort to upgrade its BAe 146 fleet, including conversion of all aircraft from six-abreast to five-abreast seating, thus providing substantially improved comfort. Air Wisconsin’s current BAe 146 fleet consists of one series 100, twelve series 200s, and five series 300s.

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