The project to save ex-Spantax Convair CV-990 Coronado EC-BZO at Palma de Mallorca airport has announced that the aircraft is now under severe threat, as official recognition obtained from Majorca’s regional government five years ago designating it as an historic monument has recently been withdrawn. That means that the Spanish Air Force, on whose land it currently rests at Palma, is likely to act to have it removed. The funds of the preservation group Amics de Son San Joan, which has painstakingly carried out various restorative procedures on parts of the aircraft over recent years, do not run to moving it elsewhere at present.
Of the 38 CV-990s built, three others remain, including HB-ICC at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne and two in the USA. Although it was a financial disaster for General Dynamics, the CV-990 was faster than its Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 contemporaries, and in many respects the design was technologically superior. It possessed exceptional structural integrity, which has helped EC-BZO to remain in relatively good shape despite the humid and saline climate of Palma over almost 30 years since it was withdrawn from service.
Formed in 1959, Spantax grew quickly and primarily served the tourist market between major European cities and the Balearic and Canary Islands. The first two CV-990s were purchased from American Airlines (AA) in 1967. Eight more were acquired from AA between 1968 and 1972, then another four from Swissair in 1975. As operating costs grew, Spantax gradually reduced cruising speeds and started withdrawing the Coronados from service in the early 1980s, placing them in store at Palma. Eight were scrapped there in 1991 and two in 1993.