Pionair begins BAe 146QT operations for Virgin Australia Cargo

Pionair BAe 146-200QC VH-SIF

Pionair BAe 146-200QC VH-SIF departing a rainy Sydney for Melbourne on 8 July (Grahame Hutchison)

Australia’s Pionair began BAe 146 freighter operations on behalf of Virgin Australia Cargo (which itself is operating on behalf of TNT) on 13 July, using former Titan Airways 146-200QC VH-SIF (msn E2119 ex G-ZAPN). The flights were supposed to begin on 4 July, but VH-SIF found it hard to get back to work after over three years sitting idle at Bankstown, so Convair 580 VH-PDW covered for her. Pionair had acquired VH-SIF in April 2013, for its proposed Skyforce operation. However, it failed to obtain the necessary approvals, and VH-SIF remained parked at Bankstown. VH-SIF flew a test flight on 6 July, then undertook crew training and route proving flights to Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, and Cairns over the next few days, before entering the hangar at Cairns to address a few technical issues. She operated her first service for Virgin Australia Cargo on 13 July, VOZ9564 from Cairns to Brisbane. A second BAe 146 freighter is due to join her in a few months.

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