|Parent company||Regional Express Holdings|
|Headquarters||Mascot, New South Wales|
|Key people||Keith Johnson, CEO|
Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd (trading as Pel-Air) is an airline based in Mascot, Sydney, Australia. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Regional Express Holdings, which also owns Australian airlines Regional Express Airlines (Rex) and Air Link.
Pel-Air specialises in air charter and ad hoc services, operating executive charter services throughout Australasia, as well as freight services through its subsidiary Pel-Air Express. It also operates medevac and government support services. Its main base is Sydney Airport, with other bases at Brisbane Airport, Darwin International Airport, and Nowra Airport.
The company was founded in 1984 and the following year acquired its first Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Westwind aircraft. In January 1989 it commenced scheduled passenger-carrying operations in Western Australia via subsidiary company Qwestair, initially with a leased Beech 200 Super King Air flying between Perth and Telfer. A Westwind replaced the King Air in March of that year, and a Cessna 310 was added in January 1992 to operate between Port Hedland and Telfer via Marble Bar and Woodie Woodie. Qwestair ceased operations in November 1995 after the Perth-Telfer route was awarded to another company, and the two Westwinds then in use returned to Pel-Air operations.
Also in 1995 Pel-Air took over Newcastle Aviation, an operator of Fairchild Metro III, and leased Metro II and Mitsubishi MU-2 freighters. Following the takeover the Mitsubishis and Metro IIs were handed back to their owners and the Metro III fleet was expanded. In 1996 Pel-Air won a contract to provide support to the Royal Australian Navy, resulting in further expansion of the fleet with the acquisition of four Learjets. In 1997 Pel-Air acquired several Metro II aircraft and on-sold them to the Royal Australian Air Force for use as training aids at RAAF Base Wagga near Wagga Wagga. In 2003 the company introduced a new type into its fleet when it took delivery of a leased Beech 1900C freighter. The type proved to be more expensive to operate than the Metro III and the two aircraft in the fleet were handed back to their lessors.
In 2005 another new type was added to the fleet when Pel-Air placed an Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilia freighter into service, for use on nightly flights between Sydney and Brisbane carrying Fairfax Media newspapers. Also in 2005 it was announced that Pel-Air would be purchased in stages by Regional Express Holdings; the company becoming a wholly owned subsidiary in mid-2007. Also in 2007, Aspen Medical entered an existing joint venture between Pel-Air and CareFlight International to operate air ambulance flights out of Darwin International Airport using one of the Westwind aircraft.
In June 2008 it was announced that a Pel-Air Westwind II would be based at Perth Airport for use as an air ambulance in conjunction with CareFlight. This service was withdrawn in June 2009. In late 2008 Pel-Air added another new type to the fleet, when it took delivery of two Saab 340A freighters, previously operated in passenger service with the parent company's other airline subsidiary Regional Express Airlines.
In February 2009 Pel-Air began fly-in fly-out operations from Townsville Airport on behalf of Barrick Gold, after the previous operator MacAir Airlines collapsed; Pel-Air used Saab 340Bs of sister airline Rex to provide the service. Fly-in fly-out operations expanded later that year when flights from Adelaide Airport on behalf of Iluka Resources commenced in August under a three-year contract.
In April 2009 Regional Express Holdings announced that due to the cancellation of a number of contracts it would cease all scheduled Metro III freight operations at the end of May. Remaining scheduled freight operations would be conducted using the Saab 340As. Also in April Regional Express Holdings launched RexJet Executive Charter as a division of Pel-Air, in a rebranding and expansion of the group's existing passenger air charter business. In July 2009 the parent company announced that Pel-Air had been named as preferred tenderer for the provision of air ambulance services in Victoria. Pel-Air took over from the previous operator, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, in mid-2011.
- 4 Hawker Beechcraft B200C King Air
- 1 Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilia (Stored at Wagga Wagga Airport)
- 2 Gates Learjet 35A
- 1 Gates Learjet 36
- 1 Gates Learjet 36A
- 7 IAI 1124 Westwind
- 1 IAI 1124A Westwind II
- 4 Saab 340A
- 1 Saab 340B
Of these aircraft, the Brasilia and three of the Saab 340s have been converted to freighters, while the Learjets and some of the Westwinds are operated in support of the training and operational requirements of the Royal Australian Navy. These operations include target-towing (for which the Learjets have been modified); simulated air attacks on warships; and flights ensuring that live-fire exercise areas are devoid of civilian shipping. The four King Airs operate the Victorian Air Ambulance contract.
Incidents and accidents
- On 10 October 1985 one of the company's Westwind aircraft crashed into the sea off Sydney after departing Sydney Airport on a flight to Brisbane; the two crewmembers were killed.
- On 27 April 1995 the company suffered a second fatal Westwind crash when one of its aircraft hit a hill on approach to Alice Springs Airport, killing the three occupants.
- On 18 November 2009 a third Westwind, a 1124A Westwind II, was written-off near Norfolk Island during an air ambulance flight from Apia to Melbourne on behalf of CareFlight. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Norfolk Island to refuel but weather conditions there had deteriorated while it was en route. After several abortive landing attempts the crew successfully ditched in open sea in darkness and bad weather. All six occupants were rescued.
- Australian civil aircraft register search, using "Pel-Air" as the Registered Operator search parameter. Search conducted 11 November 2012. The results include the Westwind II that ditched off Norfolk Island, but this aircraft has not been included in the total.
- "Rex Plans to Phase Out Older Saab 340A Aircraft" - Rex Media Release retrieved 21 January 2009.
- "Rex to Cease Metro 3 Freight Services" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 10 June 2009.
- "Rex expects 10% increase in earnings". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 August 2007.
- "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-10. p. 62.
- Pel-Air website retrieved 200]-08-27.
- Australian Aviation magazine annual Regional Airline Directories 1989, 1992 and 1996. Aerospace Publications.
- "Jet ambulance to boost medical evacuation services in W.A. (Perth)"; CareFlight Media Release. Retrieved: 5 September 2008
- "Regional Express Subsidiary Pel-Air Awarded Osborne Mine Contract" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Rex Subsidiary Pel-Air Awarded Jacinth-Ambrosia Charter Contract" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Rex to offer private jets" - traveldaily.com.au news, 28 April 2009 retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Rex Subsidiary Pel-Air Awarded Commonwealth Air Transport Deed of Standing Offer" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Rex wholly-owned subsidiary Pel-Air selected as preferred tenderer by Ambulance Victoria" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 25 October 2009.
- Australian Transport Safety Bureau Aviation Safety Investigation Report - IAI 1124A VH-NGA retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "Pel-Air crash list". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- "CareFlight/Pel-Air Medical Evacuation Incident - Samoa to Melbourne" - Regional Express Holdings Media Release retrieved 20 November 2009.
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