Humphrey’s Last Day

Humphrey - Frontier A318

This was probably the last photo of N806FR (msn: 2218) in revenue service. Frontier/Republic assigns names to the animals which adorn the Frontier-liveried jets in the fleet and 806 was Humphrey the Bison.

I say “was” because on October 8th, Humphrey flew to GWO/Greenwood-Leflore for scrappage.

Two of Frontier’s A318s, both less than four years old, have already been officially scrapped (“Clover the Fawn” and “Spike the Porcupine”), with four more in line for the axe.

Humphrey, Frontier’s sixth A318 and the 13th built overall, was delivered in 2004 and leased through GECAS.

Republic, for its part, is gradually converting over the Midwest-liveried E190s in its fleet to Frontier aircraft, filling the gap left by the baby Airbus.

Air France, BA, and Lan Chile have made a good use of the A318 and they’ve served Frontier well, but there is little interest for them in the used market, and the cost of conversion into a Biz-jet seems to be something potential customers are unwilling to pony up for instead of just buying new. A318’s small size and high weight (that structure is the same one that goes into A321s) make it a hard sell against competitors like the Embraer E-jets unless long range ETOPS is needed, and the few who need A318’s for that mission already have them.

That commonality with the other A32x’s is probably also a component of what is driving this. The A318 doesn’t fit into most airlines’ operational plans very well, but its parts sure do.

Still, it seems incongruous that three-year-old A318’s are going to scrap and the pilots who fly them to places like GWO might fly home on a 40-year-old Delta DC-9.

Photographer: Alex Kwanten. Click on the photo to see it at full size.

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