Friday, November 1, 2013

CQ Plane Spotting Historic Spot - Sunshine Express Airlines

Sunshine Express Airlines was a small regional airline owned by Aeromil Pacific that served many regional destinations on the East Coast of Australia from Biloela/Thangool to Port Macquarie. The airline's head office was at the Sunshine Coast Airport, however the majority of its services were in/out of Brisbane.

Sunshine Express Airlines commenced operations in October 1998 with a sole Embraer EMB-110 Banderantie VH-SJP operating between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

Soon after, the airline took delivery of De Havilland DHC-6 VH-ZRP and another two Banderanties VH-TLH and VH-TLD.

During the early 2000's Sunshine Express went through a period of expansion, becoming a Qantas partner airline, and eventually taking delivery of a pair of Shorts 360 turbo-props VH-SEG and VH-SEO (which was ex-Sunstate Airlines VH-SUR).

More destinations were added to the Sunshine Express route network including Maryborough and Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast, and Biloela/Thangool in Central Queensland.

More aircraft were added to their fleet with Metro's VH-SEF, VH-SEY, VH-SEZ, VH-KDJ, and VH-KEX all noted operating for Sunshine Express at various times.  VH-SEF was noted carrying the name Biloela (as shown above at Biloela/Thangool Airport in 2003), while VH-KDJ and VH-KEX were both operated in a hybrid livery that included the colours of their former operator Regional Express (REX).

Sunshine Express also commenced flying services into New South Wales, including Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, and Armidale, as shown below on one of their last route maps.

Sunshine Express ceased all scheduled operations at the end of September 2006, when it decided to concentrate on charter operations.

Hervey Bay and Biloela/Thangool are now served by QantasLink. Coffs Harbour is now served by Brindabella Airlines. Port Macquarie was served by Brindabella Airlines but this service was discontinued at the end of 2010. Virgin Australia now serves this route. From May 2009 Tamworth is now served by Brindabella Airlines and from August 2011 Armidale was served by Brindabella Airlines but this has been suspended. Maryborough no longer has direct air service to Brisbane.

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