In 1980 Western Airlines became a transatlantic airline when it started Honolulu-Anchorage-London Gatwick services using its DC-10-10s. The series 10 wasn’t however ideal for such a route and in April 1981 WAL leased a series 30 from ILFC which became N821L ‘The Londoner’. In that year the routing was changed into a direct Denver-London service but the route wasn’t a success and all transatlantic operations were stopped in 1982.
In late 1983 Air Pacific began long-haul operations for the first time when it wet-leased N821L to operate from Nadi to Honolulu. The route continued onto Los Angeles from Hawaii but with a Western callsign. Dubbed ‘Project America’ the service was not a success. The route was cancelled after 14 months but with debts of over $20 million the airline was forced to enter into a partnership with Qantas in 1985. It was a good idea as by 1986 it was back in the black again but rather than utilising DC-10s for its regional routes Air Pacific instead began to lease Qantas 747s.
This DC-10 was returned to ILFC by 1985 and she quickly joined American as N144AA. She went on to provide sterling service and wasn’t retired until 2000 after 20,297 landings and 103,400 hours.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: