Vietnam Airlines today have added an extra service to Australia deploying their 787-9 Dreamliner on flights from Hanoi to Sydney. This is Vietnam Airlines second service to the state capital arriving down under every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday under the very appropriate flight number VN787 departing the Vietnamese capital at 11:55pm and touching down in Sydney the following day at 12:15pm. The reciprocal flight Departs Sydney at 2:15pm as VN786 arriving back into Hanoi at 8:55pm local time.
Oneworld partner Japan Airlines have recently changed their equipment from a 777-300ER to a 787-9 on the Sydney to Narita route. In what is considered an 'upgrade' for passenger comfort, it is certainly a downgrade in passenger numbers. Even though the change is not permanent, JAL have said that they will sub equipment on the route accordingly to passenger numbers, so this could see the 777's back in the Australian Summer. JAL is now the tenth dreamliner operator into Sydney, and they codeshare on their route with Qantas.
Premier of China Li Keqiang arrived in Canberra on 22nd March a few minutes after 11pm. Premier Keqiang was visiting the nations capital amidst talks with Australia's own Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on trade, economics and protectionism. He traveled on specially configured Air China 747-400 B-2447, one of two 747s in the Air China fleet equipped for flying government VIPs. Keqiang arrived in Canberra callsign "Air China 2" and used the same callsign when he departed for Sydney on Friday afternoon. B-2447 was wheels up at 3:10pm and arrived into Sydney on Runway 25, right on 3:45pm. Keqiang was met with a crowd of supporters shortly after he touched down. On Saturday 25th March he attended an AFL Match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Later that day he also met with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian where the pair primarily discussed trade. He departed the following morning at around 11:30am on the 26th March headed to Auckland under the same callsign "Air China 2" He is set to conclude his week long visit in Wellington before jetting off back to Beijing. Air China 737-800 B-1761 was used as a support plane during the Premiers visit transiting Darwin on its way to New Zealand before arriving on Sydney on the 28th March.
Antonov 124 'RA-82046' operated by the Volga-Dnepr Group departed Avalon as VDA2066 to Sydney after making an appearance at the biennial Avalon International Air Show. The mighty Ukrainian was here delivering a US Apache helicopter, also here in town for the air show. After arriving in Sydney on 6th March RA-82046 overnighted and was scheduled to depart the following morning. However due to engine problems the Antonov was delayed, finally departing Sydney at 1545 to Honolulu on the same callsign VDA2066. It was certainly a treat to see the aircraft after an absence from Sydney skies for almost three years. RA-82046 was built in 1992 making it almost 25 years old. It is currently sporting the old Volga-Dnepr livery.
10 Tanker Air Carrier DC-10 N612AX 'Bomber 910' concluded its work down under after another successful summer fighting fires around Australia. N612AX arrived at Richmond in October where it was to be based for the bush fire season. 10 Tanker Air Carrier have 3 firefighting DC-10s in their fleet; N612AX (910), N17085 (911) and N522AX (912). All the tankers are ex commercial jets originally operating for Finnair, Thai Airways and Japan Air System respectively. It is unlikely that 10 Tanker Air Carrier will return next season with one of their DC-10s as the NSW Government only leased them to the NSW RFS for two fire seasons. N612AX Departed RAAF Richmond on Thursday the 2nd March for Albuquerque via Pago Pago and Honolulu where it will resume service with the remaining 10 Tanker fleet of DC-10s.