Air Australia - Airbus A320-200
This colourful character called Australia home for just over two years, whether that was strategic or not we will never know but Gemini Jets made it and now I'm going to cover, it is Air Australia's Airbus A320 VH-YQC.
The Real Deal VH-YQC came off the Airbus production line in Toulouse in November 1992 as F-WWBJ and took the sky for the first time on December 15, 1992. GATX Leasing accpeted the aircraft in early March 1993 and registered it in Portugal as CS-TNE before being leased to TAP Air Portugal.
CS-TNE served with TAP Air Portugal for seven years before being sub-leased to Air Luxor, another Portuguese airline in March 2000 and after being with Air Luxor for two and a half years, CS-TNE was sub-leased again, this time to a Swedish airline, Novair.
CS-TNE only spent six months with Novair before being returned to Air Luxor in Portugal and by the end of 2003, CS-TNE was withdrawn from service at Air Luxor and placed into storage in France awaiting it's next task.
The next task awaiting CS-TNE was a familiar one, it was back to TAP Air Portugal for a second stint in the Mediterranean sun. CS-TNE started back with TAP in May 2004 and would remain in the TAP fleet until 2010 when it was withdrawn from use again and returned to GATX Leasing.
In April 2010, CS-TNE became VH-YQC on the Australian register and departed for Australia in May 2010, eventually arriving in Melbourne on May 6, 2010 after being ferried from Porto, Portugal.
Arriving in Australia in an all-white livery, VH-YQC spent a month in the hangar receiving decals for Strategic Airlines, the carrier that it had been leased to before entering service in June 2010.
VH-YQC flew for Strategic Airlines for about a year before heading to Malaysia for repainting, Strategic Airlines was being rebranded as Air Australia and on October 22, 2011, VH-YQC arrived back into Australia in a fresh livery for Air Australia.
Air Australia was to be very short lived with the company going bankrupt and ceasing all operations on February 17, 2012 and VH-YQC departing Australia to the United States almost two weeks after Air Australia collapsed.
VH-YQC became N268AT was placed into storage at Goodyear, Arizona until February 2013 when it departed for Egypt for repainting before it's next task. N268AT was re-registered ZS-DJD and was sold to a holding company which in turn leased the aircraft to CAA Compagnie Africaine d'Aviation from Democratic Republic of Congo.
After spending two years flying around southern Africa, ZS-DJD became UR-CNO was leased to DART Ukrainian Airlines and entered service with them in April 2015 but it's time with DART was short lived with the aircraft going into storage and then being leased to Zagros Airlines from Iran from April 14, 2015. In December 2015, UR-CNO was re-registered to EP-ZAV and is currently still in service with Zagros Airlines.
The Collectors Item Despite the aircraft only being in the Air Australia for a short period of time, Gemini Jets still released this model in 2012 and according Collectable Aircraft Wings Australia only 150 of these models were produced but I assume it would be closer to 1500 of these being made.
The model, despite being from 2012, looks great even though Gemini weren't able to accurately replicate the colours on the engines. The mould isn't great and looks dated compared to other A320s that are produced these days but I'm very apprciatve that Gemini did produced this aircraft, especially given how little time it actually spent a) in Australia and b) in that livery.
I was unable to find any examples for sale on eBay and all the major model aircraft retailers have this specific model marked as out of stock which is expected given it was released in 2012 and was snapped up quickly by Australian collectors.
This will be my last post for a few weeks as I take a holiday but once I'm back, the site will ramp up again and keep digging through my collection.