What Happened To Canadian Airlines’ Boeing 747s?

Canadian Airlines was once Canada’s second-largest airline, and operated from 1987 until 2001. It flew an interesting and diverse fleet that consisted of Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas designs. Among these was the Boeing 747-400, of which Canadian Airlines flew four examples in the 1990s and early 2000s. Let’s take a look at the history of these jets.

Canadian Airlines Boeing 747
Canadian Airlines flew Boeing 747-400s between 1990 and 2001. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The first arrival

According to data from ch-aviation.com, Canadian Airlines’ first Boeing 747-400 joined the carrier in December 1990. Registered as C-GMWW, the aircraft was brand-new, having first flown a month beforehand. Canadian Airlines ordered it in July 1988.

While the 747-400 was Canadian Airlines’ first quadjet, it also operated several other widebody designs with either two or three engines. The most numerous design among these was the Boeing 767-300ER, of which it flew a total of 25 examples.

Moving away from Boeing, Canadian Airlines also operated Airbus and McDonnell Douglas twin-aisle aircraft. In terms of the European manufacturer, this consisted of seven A310-300s. Meanwhile, it also flew two variants of McDonnell Douglas’s three-engine DC-10 family. One of these was a DC-10-10, while the other nine were DC-10-30s.

Canadian Airlines Boeing 747
C-GMWW arrived brand-new at Canadian Airlines in December 1990. Photo: contri via Flickr

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Three more 747-400s

As the early to mid-1990s elapsed, three more 747-400s ended up joining Canadian Airlines. The next example bore the registration C-FCRA, and came onboard in February 1991. This was the second aircraft from Canadian Airlines’ aforementioned 1988 747-400 order.

Next to get involved was C-FBCA. Continuing the trend of having one 747-400 arrive at Canadian Airlines each year, this brand-new jumbo jet join Canada’s then second-largest airline in April 1992. In contrast to the first two, the airline ordered it in 1990.

There was then hiatus when it came to 747-400 deliveries at Canadian Airlines. It wasn’t until April 1995, three years later, that the final example, registered as C-FGHZ, came onboard. This was slightly older than its counterparts when it arrived at the carrier. While Canadian was still its first customer, its first flight had been nine months before its arrival.

Philippine Airlines Boeing 747
The final 747-400 to join Canadian Airlines ended up finishing its career at Philippine Airlines in 2013. Photo: Ikarasawa via Flickr

Simultaneous departures

While Canadian Airlines’ four 747-400s joined the carrier on different dates, they left simultaneously in March 2001. This was because the turn of the century saw Canadian Airlines acquired by flag carrier Air Canada, bringing its 14-year history to a close.

While all 747-400s initially stayed with Air Canada, their tenures at the national airline were short. Indeed, by 2005, three of the four had moved on to join Aerolíneas Argentinas, while the final example (C-FGHZ) joined Philippine Airlines. Interestingly, Philippine Airlines was set to receive this aircraft brand-new in the 1990s, but didn’t take it up.

Today, Canadian Airlines’ 747-400s are no longer active. Data from ch-aviation shows that three have been scrapped. Two examples met the cutter’s torch in Marana, Arizona (C-GMWW in 2012 and C-FBCA in 2018), with the third suffering this fate in Greenwood, Mississippi (C-FGHZ in 2013). C-FCRA remains in storage at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, though it too will likely meet the same fate as its counterparts before long.

Did you know that Canadian Airlines operated the Boeing 747? Maybe you even flew on one of its jumbos yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!