Which Airlines Still Operate Avro RJ Aircraft?

For many of us, the term ‘quadjet’ will conjure up images of double-decker giants such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747. Looking further back into history, you may be reminded of the likes of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. However, a certain family of regional aircraft also features a four-engine design – the Avro RJ series. This was a development of the BAe 146, and is becoming increasingly rare. But which airlines still fly the type?

Qinetiq Avro RJ70
The RJ70 is the smallest and rarest Avro quadjet. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

The RJ70

The smallest member of this quirky aircraft family is the RJ70, which was a development of the BAe146-100. It seated 70 (as the name suggests) to 82 passengers, and was 26.19 meters long. According to Planespotters.net, just three examples of the RJ70 were currently or recently active at the time of writing, in April 2021.

The only example recently in airline service was CP-3106. This 25-year-old RJ70 joined Bolivian carrier TAM Empresa Pública in 2019, having previously served the country’s air force. Of the other two, 26-year-old M-STRY flies for Formula One Management in a VIP configuration. Finally, G-ETPK flies for Boscombe Down-based defense contractor QinetiQ.

The RJ85

The mid-size variant from Avro’s RJ series was the 28.55-meter long, 85 to 100-seat RJ85. This aircraft was a development of the original BAe 146-200. It was far more numerous in terms of production examples. Consequently, many more remain in service today.

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ecojet Avro RJ-85
Bolivian carrier EcoJet presently has four RJ85s in its fleet. Photo: Marcualico via Wikimedia Commons

Planespotters.net listed the following operators as having active RJ85s in their respective fleets at the time of writing.

  • Aero-Flite (USA, 13 aircraft)
  • Aerovias DAP (Chile, two aircraft).
  • Air Annobón (Equatorial Guinea, one aircraft).
  • Bahrain Defence Force (one aircraft).
  • Bahrain Royal Flight (one aircraft).
  • Canadian North (one aircraft).
  • Cobham Aviation (Australia, one aircraft).
  • Conair Aviation (Canada, five aircraft).
  • Dubai Air Wing / Royal Flight (UAE, two aircraft).
  • EcoJet (Bolivia, four aircraft)
  • Indonesian Government (one aircraft).
  • JOTA Aviation (UK, one aircraft).
  • Mahan Airlines (Iran, five aircraft).
  • Summit Air (Canada, two aircraft).
  • TezJet Air Company (Kyrgyzstan, two aircraft).

Of the carriers no longer operating the RJ85, one of the largest was Irish regional airline CityJet. However, CityJet finally retired its last RJ85, which was 27 years old, in November 2020.

CityJet Avro RJ85
CityJet was an established RJ85 operator until November 2020. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

Meanwhile, Swedish regional carrier Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) placed its two RJ85s into storage in Norwich after suspending operations in April 2020. This was also the fate for its 11 RJ100s, an aircraft type that we shall now examine more closely.

The RJ100

The family’s largest variant was the 31-meter long, 97 to 112-seat RJ 100. This development of the BAe 146-300 was, like the RJ85, more widely produced than the RJ 70. At the time of writing, Planespotters.net listed the following operators as having active examples.

  • Aerovias DAP (Chile, four aircraft).
  • Air Libya (four aircraft).
  • Bahrain Defence Force (one aircraft).
  • Cobham Aviation (Australia, four aircraft).
  • JOTA Aviation (UK, one aircraft).
  • Mahan Airlines (Iran, three aircraft).
  • Moroccan Government (one aircraft).
  • North Cariboo Air (Canada, two aircraft).
  • Qeshm Airlines (Iran, five aircraft).
  • QinetiQ (UK, one aircraft).
  • Royal Air Philippines (three aircraft).
  • Summit Air (Canada, three aircraft).
  • Pionair (Australia, four aircraft).
Braathens Getty
Braathens placed its RJ100s into storage after suspending operations. Photo: Getty Images

Overall, the Avro RJ series is a fascinating and unorthodox family of regional jets. Its quirky four-engined design often turns heads wherever it goes. With the last examples having been produced in 2001, those still flying are all 20 years old or more.

As such, their days are likely numbered. Nonetheless, it is fascinating to see that the type has such a wide geographical spread, in countries as far afield as Equatorial Guinea and Kyrgyzstan – catch them while you still can!

How many of these carriers’ Avro RJ aircraft have you flown on? Perhaps you’ve traveled with a former operator on one of these quirky quadjets? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!