Pacific Air Express withdraws its only active Boeing aircraft

Pacific Air Express, the airline headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland, has withdrawn its only active Boeing 757-200PCF aircraft. The cargo carrier has remained dormant since April 2021, lacking adequate aircraft to continue operations.

The freighter registered VH-PQA was ferried initially to Eastern Air Lines in 1985. Qantas Freight, the cargo carrier based in Sydney, leased the aircraft under a long-term cargo wet-lease contract through the end of April this year. Since then, the aircraft has been under storage at Brisbane International. On October 2021, B757-200PCF was delivered to Kansas City International Airport, USA, via Kahului, which seemed to be for scrapping. Pacific Air Express, which has effectively suspended operations, stated that the freighter would have a new home in Northern Hemisphere without revealing further information on the soon-to-be operator. Till now, the freighter carries an Australian registration number.

Further plans of Pacific Air Express (PAE) regarding fleet expansion are yet to be revealed. The first all-cargo airline to provide scheduled freighter services in the Western Pacific region and now a cargo specialist, Pacific Air Express retains the ownership of another B-757F which underwent maintenance and avionic upgrades and was expected to operate the flights between Darwin and Guangzhou. Far from the anticipation, the second aircraft has been stored at Budapest Airport. It hasn’t got Australian registration nor got delivered to Australia. Although in 2017, Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) gave PAE approval to allocate unlimited freight capacity and frequency on Australia-China routes, the cargo airline never commenced the proposed international air service.

Qantas Freight substituted the Boeing converted freighter B757-200 that was wet-leased, with Airbus A321-200(P2F). B757-200 used to operate the Melbourne-Tullamarine- Perth International route before A321-200 replaced its predecessor aircraft to be operated by Express Freighter Australia-the subsidiary of Qantas Freight, on its behalf. It also operates the fleet of B737-300(F)s, B737-300(SF)s, and Boeing 737-400(SF)s for transcontinental flights.

Qantas Freight is Australia’s largest independent air freight service business connecting and championing the best of Australia to the world and vice versa, shipping more than 4000 air freight items to over 500 destinations globally, mobilizing 22 dedicated cargo handling terminals worldwide.

Pacific Air Express’ freight operations by B757-200F

The Boeing converted cargo plane was built in 1985 and had a total time airframe of 76752.

B757-200F of Pacific Air Express registered as VH-PQA first arrived in Brisbane on 28th November 2018, operating different training and test flights and getting an Australian Certificate of Approval (C of A). The plane made its last flight into Central Queensland to Rockhampton Airport at the end of November 2019. PAE’s first B757-200F has commenced freight operations to Australia and South Pacific destinations, providing scheduled and chartered freight services between Australia and South Pacific. The aircraft performed several cargo flights between its base airport, Papua New Guinea, and other Pacific Islands. The freighter completed its final flight under the PAE brand in March 2020 and was wet-leased by Qantas Freight until the end of April 2021. Pacific Air Express remained dormant since the plane was eventually delivered to Brisbane and auctioned for sale. It operated its last flight on May 2021 before it was advertised for selling.

Pacific Air Express B752 “VH-PQA’ resting on Papa 7 at Brisbane Airport. Photo Eyes 4 Aviation

Boeing B757-200 (PCF) freighter underwent operational variation with a number of airlines starting out in 1985 with Eastern Air Lines in the USA and being converted to a freighter and flying with a number of operators.

About Pacific Air Express

Pacific Air Express was established in 1993 that commenced its maiden flight in July 1993 on the Honiara-Townsville route. The cargo carrier operates cargo services and charter flights in South Pacific regions and Australia to meet a unique market requiring urgent time frames and specialized services. The airline entered administration in 2019 April suspending its cargo operation. The airline has acquired an Australian international airline license to operate services to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Australia-Vanuatu, Fiji, and Nauru, etc. Pacific Air Express previously operated the fleet of Boeing 727-100C, Antonov An-12, Boeing 727-200F, Boeing 737-300QC, and Beechcraft 200 King Air. In 2016, the airline accelerated its expansion plan to provide dedicated freight services to South East Asia, and as a result, it purchased 2 B757 F aircraft. Now that the cargo carrier has retired its operational B757-200, more aircraft needs to be added, although its potential plans for fleet expansion haven’t been demonstrated yet.

Besides Pacific Air Express, Australian Express, Express Freighters Australia, HeavyLift Cargo Airlines, Pionair Australia, Qantas Freight, and Tasman Cargo Airlines are the cargo airlines in Australia.

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