Cobham opts to purchase leased BAe 146QT freighters

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Cobham Aviation Services Australia has purchased three BAe 146QT freighters from BAE Systems.

The aircraft - leased from BAE Systems since the early 1990s, with Cobham providing maintenance and aircrew support - will be used to execute a renewed A$100 million ($91 million) cargo contract for Australian Air Express.

The aircraft carry a total of 20,000t of cargo per annum on overnight services linking Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. One of the three aircraft, a BAe 146-100QT variant based in Cairns, has a freight capacity of 7.5t. The other two, based at Melbourne and Adelaide, can carry up to 11.5t each.

Additionally, Australian Air Express operates 10 BAe 146-100, -200 and -300 aircraft for mining companies on 'fly in, fly out' contracts, particularly in western Australia. A BAe Avro RJ70 is used on scheduled air services to Australia's Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos Islands.

In addition to purchasing the three BAe 146QT aircraft, Cobham has extended the lease on a 146-300 passenger aircraft.

Australian Air Express is jointly owned by Qantas and Australia Post.