The Irish Jumbos: When Aer Lingus Flew The Boeing 747

When it comes to Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus, its present fleet is dominated by Airbus planes. Its long-haul services are generally operated by the Airbus A330, although the A321LR is also playing an increasing transatlantic role at the carrier. However, in years gone by, it also operated long-haul services with the Boeing 747. Let’s take a look at the airline’s jumbos.

Aer Lingus Boeing 747
Aer Lingus operated three 747s between 1970 and 1997. Photo: Steve Williams via Wikimedia Commons

The first delivery: EI-ASI

Pan Am introduced the original Boeing 747-100 commercially on January 22nd, 1970. It quickly revolutionized long-haul flying, and Aer Lingus had obtained its first example of the type by the end of the year. According to Planespotters.net, it took delivery of EI-ASI, which it named St. Patrick, on December 15th, 1970.

The airline largely deployed this aircraft on its transatlantic routes, although it sometimes found itself undertaking other special duties. For example, as seen below, it flew Pope John Paul II into Dublin in September 1979. All in all, EI-ASI served the airline for more than 26 years.

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Aer Lingus Boeing 747 Getty
Pope John Paul II disembarking from EI-ASI at Dublin in September 1979. Photo: Getty Images

This extensive period of service was briefly punctuated with a three-year lease to Air Siam as HS-VGB between 1973 and 1976. After leaving the Aer Lingus fleet in February 1997, it spent its final years flying for Nigerian charter airline Kabo Air. The aircraft was eventually broken up after more than 32 years of service in Roswell, New Mexico, in April 2003.

EI-ASJ follows shortly after

Just over three months after the first 747 arrived, it was followed by a second example, registered as EI-ASJ. This aircraft arrived unnamed at Aer Lingus on March 18th, 1971. Much like its previous counterpart, it eventually left Aer Lingus for Kabo Air in February 1997.

However, where it differed was in terms of the frequency of its leases. While Aer Lingus leased EI-ASI just once during its time at the airline, EI-ASJ had far more spells away from home. In addition to a one-month period at Air Siam in 1975, Aer Lingus also leased it twice to British Airways (1976-1978 and 1979-1981).

Aer Lingus Boeing 747
Aer Lingus leased EI-ASJ to other operators four times. Photo: Pedro Aragão via Wikimedia Commons

Its other lease period was a four-month spell at British Caledonian Airways between October 1978 and February 1979. After exiting the Kabo Air fleet in 2000, the aircraft, like its counterpart, was also placed into storage in Roswell, New Mexico. However, it was there for more than a decade before it was broken up. This procedure finally took place in 2013.

EI-BED joins the fleet by the end of the decade

Aer Lingus’s leasing its 747s so extensively arose from a lack of initial profitability. Its final example also spent a lot of time away from home. Unlike its predecessors, EI-BED (named St. Kieran) was not brand-new when it arrived. Instead, when the carrier took delivery of it in January 1979, it had already flown for Lufthansa for nine years.

Aer Lingus Boeing 747
EI-BED was Aer Lingus’s third and final 747. Photo: Robert Lewis Reid via Wikimedia Commons

Within a year of EI-BED’s arrival, Aer Lingus had leased it to Air Algérie (October 1979-April 1980). It also spent a winter with Air Jamaica between November 1986 and April 1987. The aircraft’s final two leases from Aer Lingus took it to LAN Chile.

After spending two consecutive winters with LAN (December 1988-March 1989 and December 1989-March 1990), EI-BED returned to Aer Lingus for good. However, already aged 20 years old at this time, its days were numbered. The airline withdrew it from use in October 1994, and stored it in Dublin until February 1995. After this, it flew to Marana, Arizona for storage, where it was broken up two years later, in October 1997.

Did you ever fly on an Aer Lingus Boeing 747? If so, when did you do so, and where did the flight take you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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