Fifty years ago, the Spanish airline Iberia was planning to spread its wings. Its first Boeing 747 had just arrived, and the airline was eyeing new intercontinental routes, particularly down into Central and South America. Thereafter, for 36 years, Iberia operated various models of Boeing’s iconic 747. The last Iberia jumbo jet was retired in 2006, after just two years of service at the airline. What happened to these planes, and where did they end up?
Iberia flew its Boeing 747s for 36 years
Iberia operated jumbo jets between 1970 and 1986. All up, they flew 22 of the planes, operating four variants. They included four Boeing 747-100s, 12 Boeing 747-200s, four Boeing 747-300s, and two Boeing 747-400s. When the first 747s arrived at Iberia, the airline wanted to ramp up its long-haul flying, and the jumbos were the perfect planes to help them do that.
All up, just eight of those 22 jumbos were owned by Iberia. The remainder were leased. Some of the planes later flew for other airlines, but many of the 747s were scrapped after flying for Iberia.
Iberia’s first jumbos were a pair of 747-100s, one received in October 1970 (EC-BRO) and one in November 1970 (EC-BRP). They stayed with the airline for 10 and 11 years, respectively, both going to the now-defunct Trans World Airlines.
The other two 747-100s came to Iberia much later on. TF-ABR and TR-ABW arrived at Iberia in 1998. Both were leased. Within 12 months, TF-ABR had gone to Saudi Arabian Airlines. TF-ABW was scrapped after flying for Iberia.
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747-200 most popular of the 747 variants at Iberia
Over half of Iberia’s 747 fleet were 747-200s. Iberia operated 12 of them between mid-1980 and mid-2005. Half were owned outright, and half were leased. Of the six leased 747-200s, four (TF-ABA, TF-ABI, TF-ABP, and TF-ABY) went on to another life at charter and ACMI airline, Air Atlanta Icelandic. The other two leased 747-100s, EC-IAF and EC-HVD, were scrapped after flying for Iberia in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
Of the six Boeing 747-200s Iberia owned, four were scrapped, and two were onsold. The four scrapped planes were EC-DIA, EC-DIB, EC-BNP, and EC-GAG. The first of these planes entered service with Iberia in 1980 and the last left in 1995. The two 747-200s onsold were EC-EEK and EC-ATC. EC-EEK flew for Iberia for 13 years before going to UPS in 2001. EC-ATC was at Iberia for just one year, going to Air Atlanta Icelandic in 2002.
The Boeing 747 exits Iberia’s fleet in 2006
Iberia had four Boeing 747-300s over the years. All were leased. Two (TF-ATI and TF-ATJ) went to Air Atlanta Icelandic in the mid-2000s after roughly half a decade at the airline. TF-ATH went to another Spanish airline, Pullmantur Air, in 2003, after three years at Iberia. TF-ARS went to Air Algiers in 2004 after just two months at Iberia.
That leaves just two Boeing 747-400s to deal with. By the advent of the 400 variant, the glory days of Iberia flying their 747s were over. TF-AMA spent two years at Iberia before going to Air Atlanta Icelandic in July 2006. TF-AMB also spent just two years at Iberia, heading off to Oasis Hong Kong Airlines at the same time at TF-AMA.
The disposal of the two 747-400s spelled the end of the 747s at Iberia. These days, Iberia is an Airbus airline. They are sleek and efficient planes but not half the joy to fly in a 747 is. As with airlines everywhere, a little bit of the magic died at Iberia when the last jumbo jet left.
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