Caracas has received the A300 since the mid 80’s when Pan Am and Eastern introduced the type in Venezuela for its service to Orlando and Miami respectively. Also, Viasa operated the A300 for its routes to Toronto, New York, Miami and Houston. In the early 90’s Cruzeiro also operated the A300 shortly in CCS before its merge with Varig.
Photo © Gerhard Plomitzer
Photo © Frank C. Duarte Jr.
Photo © Pedro Aragão
Photo © Rajesh Changela
In March 1987, and to everyone’s surprise, American Airlines inked an order for 25 A300B4-605R, an improved version of the A300 with more cargo capacity and improved aerodynamics and engines, which perfectly fitted in its medium and long haul high-demand routes. On April 21st, 1988 the first A300 for American (N91050, cn. 423) was delivered, and it was put into service in June 1988.
Photo © Andres Ramirez
The flexibility of the A300 on short, medium and extended-range routes, besides the advantage of holding large amounts of cargo, turned the A300 into a successful workhorse and a very common sight in AA’s high-density routes, either transatlantic (e.g. JFK – LHR; JFK - CDG), domestic (such as JFK – MIA; MIA – BOS; MIA - MCO) or the Caribbean (for instance: MIA – SJU or SJU – MCO). However, on November 12th, 2001 Flight 587 tarnished the safety record of the A300, besides settling a dispute between American Airlines and Airbus on the responsibilities of this crash.
Photo © Ralf Langer
In January 2002, American announced the retirement of the A300 on transatlantic routes, limiting the use of the A300 in the Caribbean from its hubs in New York, Miami and San Juan, and setting a retirement date due to 2012. However, in June 2008, the CEO Gerard Arpey announced the phasing out of the remaining 34 A300s between October 2008 and August 2009, scheduling its final retirement on August 24th, 2009.
Venezuela said goodbye to the A300 on July 31st. Weather was not the best and the traffic as usual, unpredictable. However, we arrived with plenty of time to our usual spotting location to spot planes, have fun and share memories about the AA’s A300.
Photo © Orlando Suarez
American began to operate the A300 to Caracas as one daily flight to Miami in the mid 90’s. The airplane suited perfectly for the year-round demand of both passengers and cargo operations in Venezuela, and its peak of operations happened in winter 2006, when 3 out of 4 daily services to Miami were served by the silverwhale.
As time passed and the traffic was passing by, we were able to catch the usual domestic and international traffic to CCS. At 13:36, we heard on our scanner:
American 935, cleared to Land, Runway 10
It was a dark and cloudy day. However, just for a moment, a glimpse of light bathed our last A300 to be seen in Caracas (at least in passenger configuration). The N80084, the “youngest” A300 of the fleet passed in front of us, proudly, almost like waving us good-bye.
Photo © Art Brett - Photovation Images
Photo © Carlos Aleman - SJU Aviation Photography
As the sound of the CF6-80C died away, a gentle rain began to fall on Caracas. It was time for us to go to our usual meeting place: The Coffee Shop at the Domestic Terminal.
Once there, we were able to see some particular guests to this farewell party… The smart-looking Skyteam’s Alitalia 767 and a gorgeous Star Alliance’s A330 from TAP. Also, our 80th Anniversary Aeropostal DC-9 was there.
Photo © Aldo Bidini
Photo © SkyLiner
Photo © Luis A. Gabaldon
A little after 17:00, and partly due to the rush hour at CCS and the rain, our A300 released brakes and pushed back from Gate 23. Usually, they turn at their right and go straight to runway 10. However, this time turned to the left and began to taxi slowly between two fire trucks, which performed a watercannon salute to say good-bye to a great airliner which will be missed.
After being saluted, the silverwhale Took taxiway Charlie and straight to holding point of runway 10. As the A300 positioned and hold, we were able to hear:
Cleared for takeoff American 936, Thanks for the Memories!
Almost immediately, the A300 rolled in front of us for the very last time, rotating past over the half of the runway, once airborne, it turned to the right and climbed to 2000 feet bound to northwestern intersection MARES and little by little, the last A300 service from Caracas faded from our sight.
Thanks for reading trip Spotting Trip report of my home airport. I hope that you enjoyed reading it and beforehand my apologies because of the pictures but the weather unfortunately was not at its best.