CityJet Retires Its Last Avro RJ85

Dublin, Ireland-headquartered CityJet has withdrawn its only remaining BAE Systems Avro RJ85 ending a 27-year association with the regional jet and its predecessor, the BAe146. The wet lease specialists RJ85 registration number EI-RJF and named “Great Blasket Island” left Dublin Airport (DUB) for Keflavík International Airport (KEF) on November 2.

GettyA Cityjet British Aerospace Avro RJ85 seen landing at Milano
CityJet is an Irish wet lease specialist. Photo: Getty Images

The 22-year-old aircraft will make a stopover in Iceland before flying on to the USA. Once the plane arrives at Spokane International Airport (GEG) in Washington, it will be converted into a firefighting aircraft and enter service with Aero-Flite.

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The RJ85 flew between Dublin and LCY

Constructed in 1999, CityJet acquired the 95 seat aircraft from Minnesota-based Mesaba Airlines in 2007 and used it on routes flying out of London City Airport (LCY). CityJet operated its Avro RJ85 on behalf of Irish national flag carrier Aer Lingus with regularly scheduled flights between London City Airport and Dublin Airport (DUB).

The RJ85 will be converted and used as a firefighting aircraft. Photo: YSSYguy via Wikipedia

Because of its high-wing and T-tail, the aircraft was capable of steep descents, making it the perfect choice for challenging airports like London City. The Avro RJ85 was also a very quiet plane making it an ideal choice for noise-sensitive airports within cities.

In 2016 CityJet decided to embark on a fleet modernization program phasing out its RJ85s and replacing them with 20 Canadian-built Bombardier CRJ900s. When talking about CityJets Avro BAe146 and RJ85s aviation website FlightGlobal quotes CityJet chief executive Pat Byrne as saying,

“For almost 30 years, the Avro BAe146 and RJ85 fleet has served us well, and for some, there were a few tears shed today when EI-RJF departed for the last time. We are now looking to the future as we grow our services on more modern aircraft, but there will always be a place in our hearts for the venerable Avros.”

CityJet now only has CRJ-900s

CityJet’s last passenger flight between Dublin and London City Airport took place on March 24, 2020, a day before the airport closed due to COVID-19. LCY was closed for three months before reopening on June 21, 2020, limiting flights to only those from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

According to, CityJet currently operates a fleet of 24 Bombardier CRJ-900s, of which ten are parked. CityJet has ten planes not in service due to a slowdown in travel caused by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. During the past three years, CityJet has provided wet lease services for several major European airlines and its operations in Scandinavia.

CityJet has bases in Dublin and Copenhagen

With bases in Dublin and Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup (CPH), CityJet operates flights to Finland, Norway, and Sweden for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

CityJet’s Bombardier CRJ900 fleet was built at the Bombardier Aviation factory in Quebec with components manufactured in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The aircraft was designed to fly in freezing temperatures and is perfect for regional operators in Canada, Alaska, and Scandanavia.

CityJet now oporates a fleet of CRJ-900s. Photo: CityJet

It would appear that the Avro RJ85 is going the way of all four-engine jets that are being replaced by more fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft. For EI-RJF, it will live on providing firefighting duties in the United States.

Have you ever flown on an RJ85? If so, please tell us what it was like in the comments.