The A300 family catapulted transnational European planemaker Airbus into aviation history when it first flew in 1972. It entered service two years later, and was known for being the world’s first-ever twin-engine widebody jetliner. Airbus produced 561 A300s across all variants between 1971 and 2007, but which airlines have been its largest operators? Using data from Airbus and ch-aviation.com, let’s take a look at the world’s biggest A300 fleets.
When Airbus concluded A300 production after 36 years in 2007, it delivered its final example to FedEx. The Memphis-based carrier was an apt customer for such a special delivery, given that it is the A300’s largest operator. It presently has 66 A300s in its fleet, of which 61 are active. It has previously operated a further five, bringing its all-time total to 71 A300s.
Interestingly enough, the next-largest A300 operator in the cargo sector is also a US-based logistics giant, namely UPS. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, this carrier presently has 52 A300s in its fleet, of which 50 are active, as well as two further historical examples.
Across the North Atlantic Ocean, a lesser-known A300 operator with a surprisingly large fleet can be found in Leipzig. The German city is a key hub for European air cargo, and EAT Leipzig currently operates 28 A300s on behalf of DHL throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Historically speaking, it has operated a further 19 examples.
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The A300’s largest cargo operators are airlines for whom the type remains a key part of their respective fleets. However, when it comes to passenger-carrying operations, the A300’s best years are behind it. As such, the largest A300 fleets in the passenger sector are all ones that used to belong to former operators of the type in Asia and the US.
Data from ch-aviation shows Japan Air System as having operated 38 A300s. This carrier later became known as Japan Airlines Domestic in 2004, before being merged into JAL altogether two years later. Elsewhere in Asia, Airbus data shows 33 deliveries to Thai Airways, and 32 to Korean Air. In the case of the latter, ch-aviation lists four as having been freighters.
The US was also home to two of the A300’s largest passenger-carrying A300 operators. Fort Worth-based legacy carrier and oneworld founder American Airlines flew 35 examples of the type’s A300-600R variant. Meanwhile, Eastern Air Lines had 34 A300s.
An increasingly rare aircraft
Overall, a good number of A300s remain operational to this day, continuing to underline its impressive legacy as the world’s first twin-engine widebody jetliner. However, of the 170 that continue to fly, just 11 are active passenger-carrying examples.
For avgeeks wanting to travel on the ground-breaking aircraft, this makes doing so a difficult task. Simple Flying recently took a look at the five airlines that still operate the A300 in a passenger-carrying capacity. All five are based in Iran, and are as follows.
- Iran Air (three active examples)
- Iran Airtour (two active examples)
- Mahan Air (two active examples)
- Meraj Airlines (one active example and one likely to return to service)
- Qeshm Air (two active examples)
Are you a fan of the Airbus A300? How many different airlines have you flown on the A300 with? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.