Irish airline CityJet said good-bye today to the last of its Avro RJ85/Bae 146 aircraft, a type of craft the airline has used for almost 27 years. 

CityJet's final RJ85, registration "EI-RJF", departed Dublin today for Reykjavik in Iceland en route to its new home in the US for conversion into a "water bomber" to combat forest fires.  

It joins ten of its former CityJet planes which have already crossed the Atlantic for this purpose.

CityJet said its Avro fleet flew over 475,000 flights and 580,000 hours with CityJet since 1993, equivalent to 67 years in the air and a distance approximating to around 1,000 times to the moon. 

EI-RJF was built in 1999 and joined CityJet in 2007 as part of a batch of 27 RJ85s purchased from US airline Mesaba.

Founded in 1993, CityJet pioneered services between Dublin and London City Airport in 1994 using the four-engined Avro jet under a franchise agreement with Virgin Atlantic.  

Over the following decades, CityJet operated the aircraft on a network of routes from London City Airport and for Air France out of Paris, with over 50 of the type serving with CityJet during this period.  

CityJet's last passenger flight on the 95-seat RJ85 was in March when it flew from London City Airport to Dublin on behalf of Aer Lingus. 

As part of its fleet modernisation programme, CityJet has progressively reduced its 95-seat RJ85 fleet and now has 20 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets in service. 

Pat Byrne, Executive Chairman of CityJet, said that for almost 30 years, the Avro BAe146 and RJ85 fleet had served it well, and for some there were a few tears shed today when RJF departed for the last time.

"We are now looking to the future as we grow our services on more modern aircraft, but there will always be a place in our hearts for the venerable Avros," Mr Byrne added.

In August, the High Court formally approved a survival scheme allowing CityJet to successfully exit examinership. 

The approved scheme allowed the Dublin-based airline continue as a going concern, on what was described on "a slimmed down" basis, with over 140 jobs at the company being retained. 

It had previously employed over 400 at its Dublin base.