Sometimes you come across an oddity on eBay, the sort of thing you don’t expect to see and weren’t even looking for. This is one of those.
HiFly (www.hifly.aero) is a specialist airline based in Lisbon, Portugal who operate in a little served market, the emergency stand by, and so called white-label markets, as well as short to mid-term charters and one off events. Titan in the UK tend to operate the emergency and short term ends of the market, but HiFly remains a leader across the board in Europe and much of the world.
If you need an aircraft of a certain size for a one off, or for a few days, or business is so good you need cover when an aircraft goes technical, or something like the recent Sharm El Sheikh incident that brought down the Russian A320 happens, and UK airlines need as many aircraft as they can find to get everyone home as soon as possible. That’s where HiFly come in. Peacekeeping support, military personnel and VIP lift, HiFly do it. In addition they will also lease you a full crew and aircraft for a few weeks or even months if you need it. Many of their aircraft are just painted white – last year we had several weeks when an A343 that they own was in and out of BHX on a Dusseldorf run.
It’s an interesting market be in but high risk. However they’ve made it work very successfully. So much so that as of the time of writing HiFly claim they are already fully contracted and sold out for all of 2016 for all but a small pool of emergency aircraft.
They went into business in 2005 and I suspect this model was part of the 2006 service launch programme with Ocean Wings, a holiday company that has now vanished. It’s either a journalist or business gift of some sort. HiFly still use the same livery.
The aircraft itself however is now razor blades, having been a 1988 model A320-211 delivered to TAP Air Portugal and then leased to HiFly in 2005, they returned her to the leaseholder and she went on to GA Tesis in the US in 2007, finally being dismantled in 2011.
It’s a basic A320 mould from Phoenix but it has to be said it’s extremely neat, well painted and printed. It’s an extremely nice model. Windows and lettering are also perfectly printed and the colours look first class.
2)Wings and landing gear
The gear itself is neat, the tiny tyres-on-spigots typical of the type of model from the period, but again, quality. These are from the days when quality really seemed to matter, but also, as a corporate model, it almost certainly got a higher level of concentration and effort applied. This seems to be a continuous fact with model makers, corporates get a good deal, we, the consumer are considered second rate, despite being the biggest customers overall.
The wings themselves are very neat. Not overburdened with excess paint as Phoenix do these days.
Neat, tidy, error free for their age, just as you’d like to expect. Isn’t it amazing that in 2006 they could achieve what they cannot manage very often even now, nearly ten years later?
4) Nose detail
The flight deck windows look a bit large but there is no other detail. Does it matter when the model is this size? Of course it does, but it’s not the end of the world that it isn’t there. What is there is quality.
5) Tail detail
Exceptionally neat though the port side stabiliser needs gluing back in. You can accept a little fault here and there on something of this age.
No issues, they are simple blues and white. It’s all been well done and neatly applied.
7) Score and conclusions
It’s pretty straightforward, it’s a reasonable quality model, an unusual and rare one. There’s nothing really wrong with it that isn’t frequently much worse nowadays!
It will offer an alternative model to come and go from RLSI, and for £19 ($30), what’s to complain about?