Corsair’s Final 747 Heads for Kemble

The last Boeing 747 operated by TUI subsidiary, Corsair is today embarking on its final flight ahead of being broken up at Kemble Airport in the UK.

The aircraft, F-GTUI (c/n 26875) is set to depart Paris/Orly this afternoon at 1.00pm local time, bound for Cotswold/Kemble Airport in Gloucestershire.

The 28-year-old widebody, which was delivered to the airline in 2005, had previously been flown by United Airlines as N186UA from 1992.

Corsair International
Corsair's final 747 is heading for Kemble after 15 years of service with the airline. Wikimedia Commons/Oliver Cabaret

After today’s flight, all three of the carrier’s remaining 747s – F-GTUI, F-HSEA (c/n 26877), and F-HSUN (c/n 26880) – will be in the hands of aircraft disassembly specialists, Air Salvage International.

The Queen of the Skies – as the type is affectionately known – has been operated by the French carrier since 1992, when it took delivery of a leased 747-100 from Air France. Since then, it has flown every mainstream variant of the jet up to the -400, including the 747SP.

Corsair 747SP
The French carrier has operated every variant of the 747 up to the -400, including the 747SP. Wikimedia Commons/Pedro Aragão

In September last year, the airline announced its plans to retire the type as part of a fleet simplification plan. At the time, it was widely reported that the first example was due to go in December 2020 and the other two in April 2021.

Like many airlines including Virgin Atlantic and KLM, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the retirement plans for the type to be accelerated.

The French carrier has revealed that the Airbus A330-900 has been chosen as the successor for the jumbo. It has five on order with the European manufacturer, the first of which is due for delivery in August this year.