Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Former Jetstar Airways (New Zealand) Dash-8-Q300s to Resume Service with QantasLink - VH-TQD Pops into CQ Airports

In September this year, it was announced that Jetstar Airways planned to end regional turboprop services in New Zealand at the end of November due to ongoing losses and weak market conditions.  The Qantas-owned low-cost carrier (LCC) began flying in New Zealand in December 2015 to cover a gap that was left in the Kiwi market following Air New Zealand's decision to withdrawn from a number of regional routes.

These services had been operated by as many as five Dash-8-Q300 turboprops which were wet-leased from fellow Qantas Group subsidiary Eastern Australia Airlines (QantasLink) and connected Jetstar's Auckland base with Napier/Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, and Wellington via Nelson.

4 of 5 Jetstar Dash-8-Q300s at Auckland lined up on the final day of service

The five Dash-8-Q300s were individually ferried across the Tasman from Auckland via Norfolk Island to Brisbane with VH-TQK arriving in mid-November and VH-SBI, VH-TQD, VH-TQL and VH-TQM all arriving over two days in early December.

VH-SBI & VH-TQM parked at Brisbane

VH-TQK then ferried to Townsville for re-painting into QantasLink colours (Qantas Silver Roo colour scheme) and ferried back into Brisbane at the start of December before re-entering service with QantasLink out of Sydney and also Adelaide.  It has also been named 'Tathra'.

VH-TQK departs Brisbane Airport for the Paint-shop  (File photo)

VH-TQK at Sydney Airport in new colours  (UPDATED!)

VH-TQD replaced VH-TQK in the paint-shop at Townsville and it emerged from the Flying Colours hangar and ferried back to Brisbane late on Christmas Eve on Tuesday 24 December.  VH-TQD has been named 'Mount Isa'.

VH-TQD at Mackay Airport in new colours  (UPDATED!)

VH-TQD then re-entered service with QantasLink on Christmas Day on Wednesday 25 December and has operated out of Brisbane and called into most Central Queensland Airports including Bundaberg (mostly), Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast), Emerald, Miles and Gladstone Airports in the days since.

Of the other three Dash-8-Q300s, VH-TQL and VH-TQM have ferried to Tamworth in New South Wales in recent days for re-painting where it appears they have been stored, while VH-SBI ferried to Townsville also for re-painting.  We await the time when they emerge and re-enter service with QantasLink!

It's also worth mentioning that during its time, Jetstar NZ also operated fellow Dash-8-Q300 VH-SBW in all-white colour scheme while the five other Dash-8-Q300s were cycled through maintenance back in Australia.

VH-SBW at Brisbane Airport in 2017  (File photo)

Meanwhile, the Jetstar Airways chief executive Gareth Evans said there was little chance of the New Zealand regional services from Auckland to Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North, as well as between Nelson and Wellington, re-starting and becoming profitable given current market conditions.

Despite the end of the regional New Zealand services, Evans indicated that Jetstar was still fully committed to its Airbus A320 operations on New Zealand trunk routes covering Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Wellington, as well as its international flights across the Tasman to Australia and also to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Jetstar’s New Zealand operation comprises of seven Airbus A320s, which are also used on international routes.

Photos taken by Philip Kyle, Simon Coates, Lloyd Fox, Lox Pix and 'JM'  ©

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