What Happened To Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 747’s?

Back in 1979, Aerolíneas Argentinas received a plane registered LV-MLO, a brand new Boeing 747-200. With this, it became the first Latin American airline to operate an aircraft of this type. During its history, Aerolíneas Argentinas operated a total of 12 747s. Seven years ago, the carrier retired the last one from its fleet. So, what happened to them?

Boeing 747-475 finishing EZE-MAD route
LV-ALJ after landing at Madrid Barajas Airport (LEMD/MAD) 2006. Photo: Barcex vía Wikipedia

From 1978 to 1982, Aerolíneas Argentinas purchased five brand new Boeing 747 directly from their factory in Seattle. Later on, the airline acquired or leased seven more of the type although these were not brand new.

In its heyday, the world’s largest passenger plane flew for the carrier on international routes such as EZE-MAD, or EZE-LAX, but now these days are gone. Some were returned to their lessor, while others were sold to different airlines or stored in Ezeiza’s airport. Some were scrapped, or even worse.

The first 747 in Latin America

LV-MLO was the first Boeing 747-200 that ARG acquired in 1978. It flew international routes for ARG until 1983 when they sold it to Metro Int. Following this, this plane changed hands several times.

From Metro, it went to Flying Tigers and then to Federal Express to finally return to AerolÍneas Argentinas. This aircraft never changed its registration despite flying for other carriers.

Aerolíneas Argentinas LV-MLO Miami airport
LV-MLO at Miami airport 1994. Photo: Ken Fielding vía Wikimedia

Unhappy endings

LV-MLO’s last route before being stored in 2002 was Ezeiza-Madrid. There are varying opinions on why they decided to store this 747 before others. Some claim that it became obsolete, saying that maintenance was too expensive for the airline, so buying a new one was the best financial option.

Alternatively, others choose a more controversial ghost theory. Though we’ll never know the real reason behind it, after 13 years of storage in Ministro Pistarini International Airport this airplane was inevitably scrapped.

LV-OHV was the only 747SP in the fleet. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia

Another striking story is the one about LV-OHV, the only 747SP model to be owned by ARG. Before arriving at Aerolíneas Argentinas in 1980, it belonged to Braniff Airways for just five months.

It served ARG for 10 years before being sold to Air Mauritius. Five years later, it was sold to Qatar Airways and operated there until November 1996 when it became part of the government fleet.

In 2000, it began flying for the Yemeni government fleet. The tragic end for this aircraft came on March 19th, 2015, when the aircraft was in the middle of a massive military shoot out and was destroyed.

How long did they fly for ARG?

The first three Boeing 747-200 incorporated into ARG’s fleet were the ones that lasted the longest with the carrier. LV-OPA, for example, served the airline for 23 years before being leased to Air Plus Comet in 2005. Two years later it came back to operate for one more year and in 2008 got stored.

On the other hand, we have SX-OAB and EI-BWF that worked less than a year for ARG. The rest of them stand in the middle, working between 1 and 20 years with the airline.

The last one standing

One of the 747-400 owned by the Argentinian airline was LV-ALJ. It joined ARG’s fleet in 2003 as a lease from Pegasus Aviation and worked non-stop on the Ezeiza-Madrid route until 2011 when it was returned to its lessor. The year after that it was leased to Aerosur and it is since then stored in the Bolivian hangars.

LV-ALJ – the last of the 747s in the fleet. Photo: Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia

ARG chose to replace it with an Airbus A340. This was the last 747 seen on Aerolíneas Argentina’s fleet.