End Of An Era: Corsair Says Goodbye To Its Final Boeing 747

French leisure airline Corsair is waving off its last Boeing 747 today, as the type makes its final push back from Paris Orly airport. The departure marks the end of almost 30 years of history for the French airline, which has operated every variant of the 747 line apart from the 747-8. Flying under special flight number SS747, F-GTUI will make its way to an aircraft graveyard in the UK for dismantling.

corsair last 747
Corsair’s last 747 has just pushed back at Paris Orly. Photo: Corsair

Bye bye 747

French airline Corsair is preparing to wave off its very last Boeing 747 today, marking the end of an era in French aviation history. Originally due to retire in 2021, the Queen of the Skies has met an earlier end, due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The airline had three remaining Boeing 747-400s at the start of this year, all of which were owned by Corsair. It withdrew the last from service in April and will focus on the A330neo for its long-haul operations going forward.

Today, the very last to leave the fleet, F-GTUI, is set to make its final trip from Paris Orly airport to Kemble in the UK. The other two had previously flown to Kemble for dismantling. F-GTUI will operate under a special flight number SS747 to mark the end of the type for French airlines.

A long history

Corsair has been operating the Boeing 747 since 1992 when the first arrived. It was a 747-100, leased from Air France, which stayed with Corsair for only a month before being returned to the flag carrier’s fleet. Over the years, 21 more Boeing 747s arrived at Corsair, spanning the entirety of the range, apart from the 747-8.

The airline operated five 747-100s, five 747-200s, six 747-300s, and five 747-400s. It even had one of the rare 747SP aircraft, F-GTOM, which had previously operated for South African Airways and Royal Air Maroc.

F-GTUI, this last 747, entered service with United Airlines in the US in 1992. It arrived in France in 2005 and has worked for Corsair ever since. Along with F-HSUN and F-HSEA, it was one of the final three 747s to operate for the airline.

The airline says that the three final 747s each operated more than 13,000 flights, taking to the skies for more than 100,000 flight hours. More than seven million passengers have boarded the aircraft and have traveled in excess of 80 million kilometers (50 million miles). That’s far enough to go to the moon and back 200 times, or to circumnavigate the world more than 2,000 times!

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The final flight

Corsair’s Boeing 747 is leaving with a bit of a bang, as the entire technical team and a few select journalists were invited to wave goodbye to the Queen of the Skies.

Departing Paris Orly airport at just before 14:00 local, F-GTUI was treated to a glorious water cannon salute as it taxiied away.

The 747 will fly to Kemble in South Gloucestershire, UK, joining a number of British Airways’ 747s that have also arrived there in recent weeks. It will also join its sister 747-400s that arrived last week.

You can follow the trip on Twitter using the hashtag #byebye747 or on FlightRadar24 here.

Are you sad to see the 747 leaving France for the last time? Let us know in the comments.