What Happened To Alitalia’s Boeing 747s?

Alitalia’s present long-haul fleet consists of twinjets from both sides of the industry-dominating Airbus-Boeing duopoly. At the European end of the spectrum, the Italian flag carrier operates 12 examples of the Airbus A330-200. Meanwhile, US manufacturer Boeing is represented by 11 777-200ERs and one 777-300ER. However, did you know that Alitalia has also operated the Boeing 747 in years gone by? Let’s take a look at its previous jumbo operations.

Alitalia Boeing 747
Alitalia operated 22 747s across 36 years. Photo: Pedro Aragão via Wikimedia Commons

Alitalia and the 747-100

According to Planespotters.net, Alitalia‘s first ‘jumbo jet’ was a 747-100 registered as I-DEMA. This aircraft arrived in May 1970, bearing the name ‘Neil Armstrong,’ and served the airline for 11 years. After leaving in 1981, it was taken on by Boullioun Aviation Services. BouAS leased it to several US carriers, including Continental and TWA. It has since been scrapped.

I-DEMA was joined in July 1970 by I-DEME, which bore the name ‘Arturo Ferrarin.’ I-DEME also left Alitalia for BouAS in 1981, but its leases took it beyond the US. For example, its first two lease spells saw it fly for SAS and Icelandair respectively. Its final operator was Continental, who flew it from 1987 to 1995, after which it was withdrawn and stored at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Despite initially being used as a crew trainer, it was broken up in 2007.

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Alitalia Boeing 747
I-DEMA was Alitalia’s first 747. Photo: Alain Durand via Wikimedia Commons

19 examples of the 747-200

According to Planespotters.net, the 747-200 was by far Alitalia‘s most popular 747 variant. It accounted for 19 of the Italian flag carrier’s 22 jumbos over the years. 13 of these aircraft were passenger-carrying examples, and the first arrived at the airline in March 1971.

It was the first of three 747-200s to be delivered to Alitalia in the 1970s. The 1980s saw a further nine passenger 747-200 deliveries, of which three were 747-200M ‘Combi’ aircraft. Alitalia’s final passenger-configured 747-200 arrived at the airline in July 1990. The first passenger 747-200 to leave Alitalia’s fleet was I-DEMB, which did so in December 1980. Meanwhile. The final departure occurred in February 2003, in the form of I-DEMV.

Alitalia Boeing 747
I-DEMF’s Baci Perugina livery promoted an Italian chocolatier. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia Commons

Alitalia’s remaining six 747-200s were the variants cargo version. Three of these were delivered brand new to the airline in the 1980s, the last of which returned to the carrier for a second spell lasting from April 2002 to December 2003. Another was leased to the airline from Lufthansa from May 1992 to February 1994. Alitalia’s other two 747-200Fs came to the airline on leases from Atlas Air. The first, N535MC, flew for the airline from May 1998 to February 1999. The second, N536MC, served Alitalia between March 2003 and April 2006.

Four of Alitalia’s five 747-200Fs have since been srapped, either fully or partially. However, one example remains active today. I-DEMR flew for the airline between 1981 and 2004, and now plies its trade at Moldovan carrier Fly Pro as ER-BAR. At the time of writing, according to RadarBox.com, it appeared to have last flown into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on April 6th.

Alitalia Boeing 747
Some of Alitalia’s 747-200s were configured for cargo use. Photo: FotoNoir via Flickr

A single 747-400F

Finally, Alitalia also operated a single example of the Boeing 747-400F. This cargo-configured aircraft served the airline on an 18-month lease from Atlas Air. This period lasted from July 2000 to January 2002, during which time it continued to wear its US registration. Interestingly enough, the registration in question, N409MC, is one that this aircraft still wears today.

It has remained at Atlas Air ever since returning from its lease to Alitalia, and is still active now, aged 21.1 years old. It was almost brand new during its spell at the Italian flag carrier, having been delivered to Atlas Air on April 5th, 2000. At the time of writing, RadarBox.com showed that N409MC was inflight from Wrightstown, New Jersey to Ramstein, Germany.

Can you remember the days when Alitalia flew the Boeing 747? Perhaps you might even have traveled onboard one of the carrier’s jumbos? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!