Australian Logo-jets: Part 1 - Jetstar - Boeing 717-200
Between 2005 and 2010, Australia's low-cost carriers, Jetstar and Virgin Blue, had some terrific logo-jets as they advertised products and brands. They looked fantastic, much better than the half-hearted efforts that Jetstar have been dishing out recently. The Model Aircraft Addict will look at three of the best logo-jets that flew in Australian skies, where they came from and where they have gone over the next couple of months.
First cab of the rank, well actually, first rental car off the lot is Boeing 717-200 VH-VQJ which wore a striking split livery advertising Avis Car Rental on one side and Budget Car Rental on the other.
The Real Deal
VH-VQJ began life with it's first flight as N429TW on November 18, 2001 and was headed for TWA. On December 1, 2001, TWA merged with American Airlines and N429TW was delivered to TWA/American Airlines but it was delivered to Victorville, California and placed in storage and never saw service with American Airlines.
N429TW remained at Victorville until May 2002 when it was re-registered VH-VQJ and was leased to Impulse Airlines, who had entered an agreement with Qantas to operate QantasLink services.
VH-VQJ flew out of Victorville in May 2002 and ended up in Richmond, NSW to be painted into QantasLink colours and by May 23, 2002, VH-VQJ was in Newcastle, NSW ready for service.
In May 2004, Qantas launched it's low-cost subsidiary Jetstar and subsequently VH-VQJ was transferred across to operate for them. Initially it operated for Jetstar in an all-white livery and then had small Jetstar.com decals applied to the front above the windows.
It was in mid-2005 that VH-VQJ was repainted in to it's Avis/Budget livery which it wore until 2007 when it was repainted into QantasLink colours.
2006 was a busy year for VH-VQJ. First it became VH-YQJ at the start of 2006 and then withdrawn from service and stored at Brisbane in June, then it was returned to service for 6 days before being withdrawn again and stored in Newcastle and then a day later was flown from Newcastle to Adelaide for more storage.
In 2007, VH-YQJ was registered VH-NXO to National Jet Systems top operate service on behalf of QantasLink and between July 2007 and August 2007, the aircraft was flown to Richmond, NSW and repainted into QantasLink livery.
VH-NXO is still operating today with Cobham Aviation on behalf of QantasLink and operates mainly in Western Australia operating FiFo charters to the many mines over in the West.
The Collectors Item
If my memory serves me correctly, there was quite a buzz among Australian collectors for this model which was produced by Phoenix Models in 2005. The Wings900 database shows that 600 models were made and according to the box, I got my copy from Aviation Center Australia for $45 AUD.
The printing, for a 2005 model, is top notch and the mould is pretty accurate. No rolling wheels or antennas which I personally feel would be out of place on a model this small.
I believe that this model is now rare with only three examples on eBay for sale with the cheapest being $140 AUD.
Glad I have got it in my collection from 2005 and currently resides in my display case with all my other Australian 717s.