What Happened To Air Canada’s Boeing 747s?

It has been with great sadness that we have waved goodbye to many of the remaining Queens of the Sky this year, her exit hastened by unforeseen events. However, the last of the iconic aircraft left Air Canada’s service as long as fifteen years ago. Let’s take a look at what happened to the Canadian flag carrier’s jumbo jets.

What happened to Air Canada's 747s
Where did Air Canada’s 747s take off to? Photo: Getty Images

The early Queens

On February 11th, 1971, Air Canada received its first 747-100 with registration C-FTOA. That plane stayed with the airline for 11 years, before moving on to Global International, Malaysia Airlines, MEA – Middle Eastern Airlines, Flying Tiger Line, FedEx, and finally, before being taken out of service, the First Security Bank of Utah. It is confirmed as scrapped; however, no date or year is specified.

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Its second sibling joined shortly after. Air Canada took delivery of C-FTOB on March 18th that same year. It remained with the airline for 14 years before finding a new home across the Atlantic with Iberia for as little as six months. It later served with, among others, Guinness Peat Aviation, MEA, Nigeria Airways, and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Finally, it spent six months with Air Atlanta Icelandic in 1999 before being ferried over to Marana Pinal Airpark in Arizona. There, it was stored for four years before it was taken apart in 2003.

Air Canada 747s
C-FTOE stayed with Air Canada until it flew to Arizona. Photo: M.Oertle via Flickr

Three more 747-100s followed; C-FTOC, C-FTOD, and C-FTOE. As far as data from Planespotters.net shows, they all remained in Air Canada’s service until they were taken apart at boneyards. C-FTOE met its end at Pinal Airpark and C-FTOD at Miami Opa Locka in Florida, both in 1999. The exact fate of C-FTOC is unclear, apart from that it too was scrapped, presumably around the same time.

The 747-200s

Between 1979 and 1999, Air Canada also operated three 747-200s. The first to arrive was C-GAGA. The jumbo stayed with the Montreal-based airline until it too was flown to Pinal Airpark. There it stayed, stored for an entire 14 years before it was broken up in 2013.

The second to join the fleet was C-GAGB, which did so on January 31st, 1979. It remained with the carrier, apart from a brief stint where it was leased to Garuda Indonesia for two and a half months in 1997. It was then withdrawn from use in 1999, exact destination unknown.

C-GABC came to Air Canada from Qantas in 1998. It is unclear exactly when the aircraft was taken out of service, but it was not broken up until 2011, having reached the tender age of 33 years. Where? Why, at Pinal Airfield, Arizona, of course.

air canada 747
At least two of Air Canada’s 747-200s ended their days at Pinal Airfield. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

The later jumbos

And then we have arrived at the 747-400s. C-GAGL was the first and came in 1991. After having been converted to carry cargo, it went to Guggenheim Aviation Partners in 2004. It then served with Air China Cargo, ACT Airlines, and Slovakian ACG Air Cargo Global before being stored at Liege in Belgium in 2019, where it remains.

Finally, a Queen that is still listed as active. C-GAGM, which was delivered to Air Canada in 1991, spent some time flying for Air India before joining Dubai Air Wing, the paramilitary airline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as a VIP aircraft. The airline has five 747-400s, four with VIP configurations, and one for cargo.

The fate of C-GAGN is quite similar to that of C-GAGL. Having been retrofitted for cargo operations, it too spent a few years changing hands before transferring from ACG Air Cargo Global to Moldavian operator Aerotranscargo as late as September 11th this year.

Air Canada 747
Most of Air Canada’s 747-400s were reconfigured for cargo operations. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

C-GMWW – yes, there is a break in the registration sequence as the aircraft was already registered in Canada having flown for Canadian Airlines International – joined the fleet in 2001.It exited only four years later and spent seven years with Aerolineas Argentinas before it was also sent to Arizona and taken apart in 2013.

C-FBCA also came from Canadian Airlines International and went to join its sibling in Argentina. In the end, it also met the same fate.

C-FGHZ too arrived from Canadian Airlines International in 2001. Leased from GECAS, it went to Philippine Airlines only two years later. Unfortunately, in the end, it ended up in a  different location than its old stablemates. The aircraft ended its days at the boneyard of the Greenwood-Leflore Airport in Mississippi in 2013.

Did you fly on one of Air Canada’s 747s? Let us know in the comments.