What Happened To Alitalia’s Boeing 747 Aircraft?

The future of struggling Italian flag carrier Alitalia still hangs in the balance. It’s still flying a strong fleet, but we’re taking a look at what happened to its historical Boeing 747 aircraft.

Alitalia flew 747-100 and -200 aircraft. Photo: clipperarctic via Wikimedia Commons

At one time, Alitalia owned two varieties of the 747; the -100 series and the -200 series. It favored the -200 series, which had a larger maximum takeoff weight and more powerful engine. This gave the -200 the edge in mileage and made it suitable for medium-haul to long-haul flying. 

Alitalia had 21 747 aircraft in total. 19 were -200 series and two were -100 series. Let’s first take a look at when Alitalia started acquiring its 747.

Alitalia’s 747-100

Around the summer of 1970, Alitalia began flying its only -100 series aircraft. The first, named Neil Armstrong, flew with the airline for over 11 years before it was passed back to Boeing who then gave it to Hawaii Express. According to Air Fleets, it was part of numerous fleets after that but its final destination was with TWA (Trans World Airlines) who acquired it in 1996. But TWA ceased operations in 2001 and the aircraft was scrapped as part of the demise.

I-DEMA; the first Alitalia 747-100. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons

The second -100 flew with Alitalia for half the time of the previous and in 1976 was given to Aer Lingus. The latest recorded operator of the aircraft is Continental Airlines who flew it from 1990. Since then, the aircraft has been scrapped.

Alitalia’s -200 series stored and scrapped

Alitalia started acquiring its 19 -200 series in 1971 and continued all the way until 2002. The majority of these aircraft were passed onto other operators but Alitalia initially kept five of the aircraft in storage. It chose a selection of aircraft delivered in the tail end of the 1900s. It kept four aircraft that it acquired in 1981 and one it acquired in 1990.

These were some of the newest Alitalia models, but not the most recent deliveries. Whilst Alitalia kept them stored, it later realized that it didn’t need the models and retired them completely in 2003 ending its ownership on the 747 entirely. The aircraft were scrapped in Kinston, North Carolina.

I-DEMP; stored but then scrapped in Kinston. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons

Of the remaining 14 aircraft that Alitalia passed onto other carriers, these days only 35% of them still exist. The majority were scrapped.

Those that are stored were registered with the airline as follows:

Video of the day:

  • I-DEMC, stored with Southern Air in 2010
  • I-DEMD, stored with Atlas Air in 2009
  • I-DEMF, stored with Atlas Air in 2011
  • I-DEMR, stored with The Cargo Airlines
  • I-DEMT, stored with Atlas Air.

Alitalia’s 747-200 series with other carriers

That leaves nine aircraft unaccounted for. Four of them were given directly to Boeing once Alitalia had finished with them. I-DEMO and I-DEMU went in 1981. I-DEMB in 1980 and I-DEMS in 2002. It was only I-DEMS was not passed onto other air carriers after Boeing but, despite this, all of the aircraft have now been scrapped.

Of the remaining five aircraft, four of them served multiple services with the airline. I-DEMV was acquired then leased and then reacquired in a conversion. The same was true of I-DEMW.

I-DEMV was with Alitalia for one year between 1985 and 1986 before it was leased to Egyptair in July 1986. It then came back to Alitalia in 1987 where it stayed until 2003 when it was eventually given to Boeing. It met its final fate in 2006 when it was given to Air Atlanta Icelandic who scrapped it at Manara in February that year.

I-DEMW, named Spoleto, was active with Alitalia for 10 years before it was given to Atlas Air as a converted freighter aircraft. It was then leased again by Alitalia as a cargo freighter in 2002. It was stored with the airline in 2004 before it was converted again to a Special Freighter (SF) with Air Atlanta Icelandic. It was with Air Atlanta Icelandic from 2004 until 2010 when it was given to Southern Air. Southern Air owned it for two years, stored and then scrapped the aircraft.

I-DEMX was originally acquired by Alitalia from Lufthansa in 1992. It had a short stint of two years where it was converted into a 747-230BF and given back to Lufthansa. The airline was out of action due to damage with Lufthansa in 2004 but was repaired two months later and went onto Evergreen International in 2005. Evergreen scrapped the aircraft.

Alitalia now flies some of Boeing’s newer aircraft. Photo: Dmitry Avdeev via Wikimedia Commons

Alitalia now flies a robust fleet and has swapped 747s for 777s. It also flies Airbus A330, A321, A320 and A319. The airline also has two types of Embraer aircraft: E190 and E175.

Have you ever flown Alitalia 747? Let us know in the comment below!

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Marco Rodriguez

Never flew with the Alitalia 747, but I do believe that Alitalia’s livery looks amazing on the 747. For me the best livery on a 747.

David Brydon

Never flew with the Alitalia 747, but I do believe that Alitalia’s livery looks amazing on the 747. For me the best livery on a 747.

Serge

Unfortunately did fly Alitalia 747 from Singapore to Sydney in 1981. The aircraft was old and looked well used. Had an engine issue in flight and had to return to Singapore for an eventual 5 hour delay. Even then the staff at Singapore Airport (not Alitalia) tried their best to sooth the unexpected arrival of passengers.

King Dong

Just fyi, the airline was supposed to receive some 747-400s in the early 2000s, but they ended up being taken over by Virgin Atlantic 🙂

Ivan Yuen

What does SF and BF mean?