Airlink ends Avro RJ85 operations

Airlink Avro RJ85s at JNB

By mid-August, when this image was taken, many of Airlink’s Avro RJ85s had already been withdrawn from use and parked at Johannesburg (Google Earth)

South Africa’s Airlink ended Avro RJ85 operations on Sunday November 17. The airline has been gradually replacing its Avro RJ85s with Embraer E-Jets, and now has 10 ERJ 170s and four ERJ 190s in service. The RJ85 fleet had already been drawn down to six examples by late May. Two more were retired at that time. ZS-ASZ (msn E2318) operated her last service, SA8621/8622 from Johannesburg to George, on 28 May, while ZS-SSI’s (msn E2383) last service was SA8458/8459 from Johannesburg to Gaborone on 7 June. ZS-ASX (msn E2319) was retired in late September after operating SA8653 from Cape Town to Skukuza on 27 September, and then positioning to Johannesurg as SA8900. The remaining three RJ85s soldiered on into November, operating primarly on services to Maun and Gaborone, in Botswana. ZS-TCP (msn E2389) was the first to be retired, after operating SA8300/8301 to Maun and SA8458/8459 to Gaborone on 15 November. ZS-TCO’s (msn E2388) last service, SA8300/8301 to Maun, came on the following day. The honor of operating Airlink’s last scheduled RJ85 services thus fell, fittingly, to ZS-SYO (msn E2394)—the last Avro RJ produced—on 17 November. Again, these were SA8300/8301 to Maun and SA8458/8459 to Gaborone. “It is a proud farewell to a plane that always ensured our Airlink customers made it comfortably and conveniently to their destination,” the airline said in a statement.

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