The Story Of Qantas’ 1990s Airbus A300 Fleet

Until last year, Qantas’s most distinctive aircraft were arguably its double-decker Airbus A380 ‘superjumbos.’ Of course, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic forced the Australian flag carrier to place these quadjets into long-term storage. However, did you know that it also used to fly the original Airbus widebody, namely the A300?

Qantas Airbus A300
Qantas flew the A300 for five years in the 1990s. Photo: John Wheatley via Wikimedia Commons

VH-TAA

Data from ATDB.aero shows that Qantas‘ 1990s Airbus A300 fleet consisted of four examples of the transnational European planemaking juggernaut’s first twin-engine widebody design. The first of these bore the registration VH-TAA. It joined Qantas, along with three other A300s, on October 31st, 1993. Specifically, these jets were examples of the A300B4 variant.

VH-TAA was 12 years old at the time of its move to Qantas. It had begun its career at Australian Airlines in June 1981. This carrier had also leased it to Condor (1984) and Air Niugini (1984-1989) during its spell there. VH-TAA was the first A300 to leave Qantas, doing so in August 1998. It then became a freighter, ending its career at MidEx Airlines in 2011.

Air Niugini Airbus A300
VH-TAA during its spell at Papa New Guinea’s national carrier Air Niugini. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

VH-TAC

VH-TAC had a very similar career progression to VH-TAA before joining Qantas. However, one difference was the fact that Australian never leased it to Condor. It left the Australian flag carrier slightly later, on October 9th, 1998. After this, it was also converted to carry cargo. What followed was a rather more extensive and lengthy freight career than VH-TAA.

Like VH-TAA, this aircraft also spent time flying airfreight for PACE Cargo Enterprises, Express.Net Airlines, and MidEx Airlines. However, these spells were interspersed with periods in Hong Kong at Cathay Dragon and Air Hong Kong. It eventually retired in 2018, having last flown for DHL International Aviation ME. It is now stored in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Qantas Airbus A300
Qantas’ Airbus A300 all went on to become cargo aircraft. Photo: Christopher Neugebauer via Flickr

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VH-TAD

VH-TAD was one of the two final Airbus A300s to depart Qantas, doing soon October 24th, 1998. This aircraft also began its career at Australian Airlines, albeit slightly later, in June 1982. Unlike its aforementioned counterparts, VH-TAD was not leased out during its spell at Australian. After leaving Qantas, it initially joined PACE Cargo Enterprises.

Having spent two years unused, 2000 saw the aircraft join Express.Net Airlines. Much like VH-TAA, this plane also saw out the end of its career in Abu Dhabi with MidEx Airlines in 2011. It reportedly remains there now, albeit in a derelict state.

MidEx Airlines Airbus A300
MidEx Airlines was the final destination for three of Qantas’ four A300s. Photo: Steven Byles via Wikimedia Commons

VH-TAE

That brings us on to Qantas’ fourth and final Airbus A300. This aircraft bore the registration VH-TAE, and commenced operations with Australian Airlines in December 1983. After just under five years at Qantas, it left alongside VH-TAD on October 24th, 1998.

While this aircraft followed the somewhat formulaic pattern of flying for PACE Cargo Enterprises, Express.Net Airlines, and MidEx Airlines, it was also briefly leased to Cathay Dragon in 2006. After retiring in May 2012, it was scrapped in Sharjah, UAE.

Did you know that Qantas used to fly the Airbus A300? Perhaps you even flew on one yourself back in the 1990s? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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