AirTanker’s civilian ‘charter' service has carried more than 2,500 passengers since assuming responsibility for the Falkland Islands air-bridge at the beginning of October.
Flown by AirTanker’s own civilian pilots, with passengers cared for by a civilian cabin crew, the new twice weekly service completed its first flight to the Falkland Islands (MPA) on October 3.
Since then it has carried more than 2,500 passengers on 20 rotations flying to and from Mount Pleasant via Ascension Island (ASI).
Iain Cullen AirTanker Services Flight Operations Director said the achievement was reflective of rapid growth in the company’s civilian service.
He said: “Our civilian operated service has made exceptional progress since the start of operations this January.
“We secured our Extended Twin (Engine) Operations (ETOPs) clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority in the early summer and have recruited a very experienced and very committed team of civilian pilots and cabin crew.
“We believe that that is delivering and will continue to deliver a step change in passenger comfort, experience and reliability across of the routes that we fly, something now optimised in our role in support of the Falklands air-bridge.”
AirTanker’s agreement with the Ministry of Defence gives the MOD exclusive access to the service’s civilian aircraft, G-VYGG. It is available to the MOD to task in exactly the same way as in existing agreements with charter airlines but with the significant additional flexibility that comes with sole usage.
Since completing its first flight to RAF Akrotiri on January 5th this year, the aircraft, which flies on the Civilian Aircraft Register, has flown almost 1,200 hours and 300 sectors. During this time it has carried almost 30,000 passengers and more than 1,600 tonnes of freight.
Provided to the MOD by AirTanker Services as part of the RAF Voyager programme, six Airbus A330 aircraft have now been delivered to the the Services’ operational centre at RAF Brize Norton, with aircraft deliveries scheduled to ressume in January next year.
Also assuming responsibility for their maintenance and overhaul as a CAA approved Continuing Airworthiness Management (Part M) organisation and Part 145 maintenance organisation, a total of 14 aircraft will be delivered as part of the programme.
Converted into a military configuration for use by the RAF, it is expected that based on projected MOD requirements, five of these aircraft will be available to AirTanker to task to other uses when not needed by the RAF. This includes the release of aircraft in a military configuration to approved partner nations or less their military assets in a charter leasing capacity.
Dave Mitchard, Managing Director, AirTanker Services, said: “The start of flights to and from the Falkland Islands signals a leap forward in our operational capability.
“Our team of civilian pilots and cabin crew are there in the frontline but it’s a much bigger team that’s supporting them, extending from our engineering service, to flight operations and ground handling teams.
“The service we offer in support of the RAF is our primary focus but we are also rapidly building a very credible civilian airline service and the operational infrastructure to support it.”