On March 30, 2020, C-GSAT, an Air Transat Airbus A313, touched down in Toronto Pearson Airport for the last time - its last scheduled flight before retirement and a repatriation flight for Canadian citizens who had been stranded in Europe due to COVID flight restrictions. TS765 from Porto, Portugal was on a mission of mercy. Read more about this trip and the history of C-GSAT, from start to finish.
Photo by Malcolm Nason , used with permission
In January 2020 the world began closing its borders to stop the spread of COVID 19. Canadians abroad were asked to return to Canada. Transportation had to be quickly coordinated and airlines such as Air Transat were enlisted to bring their citizens home.
“…Canada collaborated with Canadian airlines and negotiated with foreign countries to coordinate flights to bring Canadians home. At its peak, flight operations brought back more than 1,700 Canadians in a single day. When the assisted flights ended on July 17, more than 62,500 Canadians had returned on 692 flights from 109 countries.” Taken from “If you’re abroad, it’s time for you to come home”
On March 30, 2020, flight TS765 from Porto, Portugal to Montréal via Halifax became Air Transat’s final A310 flight. Air Transat, as the last North American airline to operate the A310, had originally planned to retire them with a final flight scheduled for April 27, 2020 from Quebec to Paris and back. Due to the unprecedented drop in air travel that day was hastened.
PHOTOS “Toronto tower, good day, for the last time, Air Transat 765 heavy cleared ILS 23”— Tom Podolec Aviation (@TomPodolec) March 30, 2020
Air Transat #TS765 arrived in Toronto from Portugal, via Halifax. Repatriation flight. This is the last passanger flight for this aircraft. They are retiring their Airbus A310 fleet. C-GSAT pic.twitter.com/KvA6TLVFPj
The A310 is a wide-body, twin jet aircraft designed and manufactured by Airbus Industrie. It was introduced shortly after its predecessor the A300, the first wide-body twin jet which lent much to the A310 design. The A310 was smaller in length and passenger capacity, but both shared the same generous 222-inch fuselage cross-section. The A310 was launched in July 1978 with orders from Swissair and Lufthansa, with its first flight in April 1982 and certification in March 1983. Between then and June 1998, 255 A310s were produced. The A310-300 variant first flew in July 1985 and entered service with Swissair in 1986. It was the same dimensionally as the 200 but it had an increased range and MTOW.
This aircraft was built by Airbus as a 310-308, serial number 600, and took its first flight on November 4, 1991.
Photo by Aero Icarus used with permission
It was delivered to Emirates in February 1992 and remained with the airline until May 2000. Emirates had previously leased its aircraft and the A310 became its first airline owned aircraft. They operated 14 A313s between 1987 and 2002, expanding its routes from only Middle East destinations to Europe, including Frankfurt and Istanbul, London and Singapore. They were phased out beginning in the late 1990s, replaced by A330 and B777s.
Emirates is one of two flag carriers and the largest airline of the United Arab Emirates. It is also the largest airline in the Middle East, as well as the world's fourth largest airline by scheduled revenue passenger-kilometers flown.
Following its time with Emirates, the plane was reregistered and sold to Kenya Airways. It flew with the airline for a short time before joining the Air Transat fleet in August 2001.
Kenya Airways was established in February 1977, in the aftermath of the East African breakup and the remnants of East African Airways. They eventually added five A310s to their fleet as they expanded their routes to more international destinations. Our plane was the last A310 added and left the fleet a little over a year later.
C-GSAT was one of fourteen A310s in the Air Transat fleet, all of which were of the A310-300 variant. They were configured for 250 seats and were used for long-haul service, from Canada to Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. With an average age of 29 years for the A313s in the fleet, the original retirement date was set for April 2020. The last Airbus A310 flight was going to be April 27th, 2020 but the choice was made to retire the remaining seven, including C-GSAT, early. After Air Transat retired the A310, there were no other airlines using them in passenger configuration left in the Western hemisphere. It was truly the end of an era for the airline and the A310. They were replaced with Airbus A321LR.
MotoArt owner Dave Hall, along with the rest of the world, watched with sorrow as borders tightened and flights were canceled. “It was such a devastating time for all of us, but there were these little glimmers of hope,” recalls Hall. “Like seeing flight TS765, the ending of an era for Air Transat’s A310s, become a literal rescue mission for stranded Canadians. When we found out C-GSAT was being scrapped there was no question whether we wanted to preserve parts of it as PlaneTags.”
Creating an aviation collectible from the side of a 29 year old, hard working airplane requires a lot of effort - most of it done by hand. Each piece becomes something special as it passes through each team member’s hand. The sections were carefully cut and packed for their trip to the MotoArt PlaneTags headquarters in Torrance, California.
Once back at the shop, the sections were cut out and cleaned up before engraving and assembling, each step done by one of the team members. There is no mechanical assembly line here.
Choosing color variants for the Air Transat Airbus PlaneTags was no easy task. C-GSAT was painted in the “Welcome” livery, introduced in 2011 and featuring the word ‘welcome’ in different languages and colors.
The Airbus A310 PlaneTags are numbered to 3,500 and will initially be available in solid blue and solid white, and in many combinations of colors. These combinations are some of the most unique ones that PlaneTags has ever offered. Not only are some bi-colored but a large portion have three color combinations and even circles. Collectors will no doubt want to add them to their PlaneTags collection, but they will make meaningful gifts as well. Add a personalized engraving to wish someone well on our return to travel in 2022. They are now available at planetags.com.
MotoArt has introduced some amazing Airbus PlaneTags, some of which have sold out, like our Sully PlaneTags . Don’t miss out on adding Air Transat PlaneTags to your collection because they will sell out.
These Airbus aviation collectibles are still available as of this writing: