A chapter in Airbus history has come to a close with the retirement of American Airlines' A300 jetliner fleet after 21 years of service.
The last A300 trip in this U.S. carrier's operation occurred August 24, with the aircraft flying from Miami to New York's JFK International Airport. A celebration prior to the final departure attracted more than 150 guests, among them American Airlines employees and Airbus representatives, and included a co-sponsored luncheon as well as the distribution of a special coin created for the occasion.
American Airlines originally ordered 25 A300s and exercised options for 10 more - a significant acquisition because it was the largest order Airbus had achieved at the time.
With the first A300 delivery to American Airlines in 1988, Airbus added a new major operator in the important U.S. market. Since then, the aircraft has been an important element in this airline's service network - carving out a niche operation in the Caribbean, Central America and the northern part of South America.
"For those of us that flew the A300 at American Airlines, it was an aircraft that stole our hearts," said Delvin Young, American Airlines Chief Pilot - Flight Test. "It was more than an airplane, it was also the character and personality of the people that flew and worked it. We were an airline within the airline. We were, and are still, a family - including our friends at Airbus. We took two great teams and created airline history."
The final flight from Miami began with a traditional airport salute, as the A300 taxied under an arch created by water cannon spray from two fire trucks. When cleared for departure, the aircraft made a smooth takeoff, and then turned for its final operational climb-out in American Airlines' colors.