In what will be an emotional day for many of us at Monarch Airlines, our last Airbus A300 will be given a fond farewell on Sunday 13 April, with a final commercial flight from London Gatwick Airport to Birmingham Airport. Weather permitting, the flight will incorporate a 1,000 foot flyby at Manchester Airport, straight down runway 5L/23R.
In a fitting end to this aircraft’s service, the flight will be piloted by the Chief Pilot of Monarch Airlines, Martin Pound. Martin has served with Monarch for over 36 years and in 1991, was the pilot charged with flying the first A300 into service.
Martin admitted he has mixed feelings about the A300’s final commercial flight. “I was the first project pilot appointed in 1989. I was involved the in the delivery of the aircraft and the first commercial flight from London Gatwick to Toulouse in 1990. I flew the first flight and now I am flying the last, I am very proud, but at the same time very sad.”
The first wide-body twin-engine airliner, Monarch’s A300 fleet have carried in excess of 20 million passengers and we are the last operator of the passenger-variant of the Airbus A300 in a European environment.
Monarch ordered four Airbus A300-605Rs, the first two arriving in 1990, followed by two further examples in 1991. In 1990, we operated two Airbus A300s for Australian start-up carrier Compass Airlines. In Monarch service, the aircraft were used to pioneer the airline’s transatlantic services to Florida and the Caribbean, as well as long-haul services to India and the Maldives.
The aircraft proved to be extremely versatile, operating to destinations all over the world. In 2008, a Premium Cabin was installed on the aircraft for the first time, allowing up to 50 passengers to sit in a private, upgraded cabin environment.
Monarch’s A300s are the final passenger-carrying examples in service with a European airline, and with its impending retirement from service, the passenger variant of Airbus’ first entry in to the commercial airliner market, will become a very rare sight in European skies.
Aviation enthusiasts from around the world will fly on the A300-605R last commercial flight with passengers from:
• Czech Republic
• UK and the Isle of Man
Are you taking part in the final commercial flight? Perhaps you’ll be watching from below? Tweet your pics & thoughts to @monarch!