Gone But Not Forgotten: The Importance Of Austrian’s Dash 8s

Austrian Airlines said goodbye – or Pfiat di – to its Dash-8-Q400s on May 31st, with the final flight the domestic link from Innsbruck to Vienna. The carrier was the world’s eighth-largest user of the DH4 in 2019. That year, Austrian used the aircraft on 44 routes, with Innsbruck to Frankfurt the thickest.

Austrian Airlines retired the last of its Dash-8-Q400s on May 31st, 2021. Photo: Austrian Airlines.

Austrian’s 18-strong fleet of Q400s were not in its own fleet for long, arriving as they did in 2015 following the merger with the regional subsidiary, Tyrolean Airways. All of the aircraft were fully owned, with the majority retired in 2019 and 2020, with the rest gradually withdrawn this year.

Austrian had 18 76-seat Dash-8-Q400s. This example, ‘Golf Bravo, ended service with Austrian Airlines in March 2020. It now operates with PAL Airlines (Canada). Photo: Michał Błaszczyna via Wikimedia.

More retirements are coming

Austrian hasn’t stopped with retirements. The carrier’s seven-strong fleet of A319s and three B767-300ERs are due to be retired by the end of 2022, if not sooner. So, like many other airlines worldwide, it will emerge from this crisis smaller than previously, but hopefully with a stronger foundation – and better to build on going forward.

The Q400, of which two are shown in this photo, entered Austrian’s fleet in 2015 following the merger with Tyrolean Airways. Photo: Getty Images.

The eighth-largest Dash-8-400 user

Austrian was the world’s eighth-largest user of the DH4 in pre-coronavirus 2019, analyzing OAG schedules data reveals. It had 2.27 million seats by the type, meaning it had more than airBaltic – which has also withdrawn the type, along with its Boeing 737-300s – but slightly less than LOT Polish.

  1. WestJet (Encore): 8.31 million round-trip seats in 2019
  2. Flybe: 8.26 million; ceased operating
  3. Air Canada Express: 8.25 million
  4. Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air): 6.16 million
  5. QantasLink: 4.65 million
  6. Porter: 4.28 million
  7. LOT Polish: 2.39 million
  8. Austrian Airlines: 2.27 million
  9. airBaltic: 1.98 million; no longer operated
  10. Eurowings (LGW): 1.90 million; no longer operated
Austrian was the world’s eighth-largest user of the DH4 in 2019, with Innsbruck (where this photo was taken) to Frankfurt its top route. Photo: Asurnipal via Wikimedia.

44 routes saw the Q400 in 2019

Austrian used the 76-seat Q400 on 44 routes in 2019. Almost all (38) were from Vienna, typically providing important feed for onward services. The average sector length was 379 miles, with the shortest just 94 miles (Graz-Vienna) and the longest 1,080 miles (Linz-Rhodes). The route to Greece operated once-weekly for 15 weeks, with a block time of up to three hours and 25 minutes.

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Perhaps unexpectedly, the thickest route wasn’t to or from Vienna, although its hub featured eight times in the top-10 route list, below, with a strong focus on domestic services. Instead, its largest route was the 230-mile service from Innsbruck to Frankfurt, operated to feed Lufthansa, which normally had four but sometimes even five daily departures.

  1. Innsbruck to Frankfurt: 223,592 round-trip seats
  2. Klagenfurt-Vienna: 179,360
  3. Prague-Vienna: 163,856
  4. Graz-Vienna: 150,024
  5. Budapest-Vienna: 139,688
  6. Innsbruck-Vienna: 122,360
  7. Vienna-Zagreb: 118,560
  8. Salzburg-Vienna: 106,172
  9. Krakow-Vienna: 101,992
  10. Düsseldorf-Graz: 91,656
Where did Austrian fly the Q400 in 2019? Image: OAG Mapper.

A day in the life of Austrian’s DH4s

On June 4th, 2019, Austrian had 205 departures from Vienna across all of its fleet. Its Q400s had 35 departures or nearly one-fifth of the total; it played an important role. Some 24 routes saw the type that day, with the timetable from Vienna shown below.

Departure time from ViennaTo…
06:25Belgrade
06:50Zagreb
07:10Geneva
07:10Lyon
08:55Bologna
09:45Innsbruck
09:55Klagenfurt
10:00Budapest
10:00Salzburg
10:05Vilnius
10:10Graz
12:35Iasi
12:55Innsbruck
12:55Sibiu
13:00Lviv
13:05Belgrade
13:05Prague
13:10Krakow
13:10Zagreb
15:10Munich
17:10Salzburg
17:15Klagenfurt
17:15Zagreb
17:20Budapest
17:25Graz
17:25Leipzig
17:35Geneva
17:45Warsaw
20:00Prague
20:05Graz
20:15Klagenfurt
20:25Krakow
21:25Budapest
22:45Klagenfurt
23:10Odesa

Klagenfurt had the most departures, with four, followed by Budapest and Zagreb with three apiece. Odesa is interesting. At 672 miles, it was a pretty long turboprop route. It left Vienna at 23:10 – timed as always for connections – and arrived in Ukraine at 02:05 (plus one hour). Returning, it arrived back into Austria at 06:10, timed for onward services.

Did you fly Austria’s Dash-8-Q400s? If so, where? Let us know in the comments.

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