JFK Airliners of the late 20th Century


Concorde served JFK from both Paris’ De Gualle and London’s Heathrow airports.

Living in southern New Hampshire during the 1980s and 1990s, it was a relatively short drive – about fifty miles – to the city of Boston Massachusetts and the Logan International Airport. In fact, the with the roadway situation consisting of an older highway and one two-lane tunnel (which clogged up on a regular basis) to the airport, the drive took longer than a flight to New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport, which made it a relatively easy day trip down to JFK. Multiple airlines served the market; both TWA and Pan Am had nonstop flights on an almost hourly basis.

New York Helicopter S-58ET tucked in behind others on a busy JFK airport ramp.

There were other ways of getting to JFK; one of my my favorite ways was to fly People Express to Newark, then hop on a New York Helicopter flight which made a EWR – LGA – 34th Street Heliport – JFK loop via a turbine Sikorsky S-58ET or an Aerospatiale SA-360 Dauphin  at an affordable price. I’d take the first flight to JFK in the morning, and take the last connection at home at night.

TWA Flight Center at JFK airport, was designed by Eero Saarinen. Photo taken from a New York Helicopter SA-360 Dauphin window seat.

Most of these thirty-something year old airliners in these photos have reached the end of their useful life and have since been scrapped. JFK attracted a vibrant, colorful and diverse airline collection to its gates, as new, long range twin jetliners like the A-310 and B-767 were just beginning to be used across the Atlantic. At that time, if you wanted to go to/from Europe and the U.S., you stopped at a major hub like JFK and connected to your final destination. Now, longer, thinner routes bypass the hub in New York. The Caribbean markets also made important stops in New York City, and still do. During the ’80s and ’90s, JFK was the most important international airport of New York City and the northeastern U.S.. These photos  show what a vibrant and colorful international airline hub it was.

Air Jamaica A-300B4-203 was the 131st airframe of this medium-range passenger jet. It was new to Laker Airways and flew for that airline for 2 years before entering into Air Jamaica’s service.

Pan Am A-310-324, Pan Am ceased operations on December 4, 1991. This airframe went to Delta Airlines, who operated it for 3 ½ years. Ultimately went on to fly for Aeroflot and S7 airlines, destroyed in 2006 in an accident in 2006. Photo taken from atop of the Pan Am Worldport, Terminal 3 at JFK, through the chain link fence!

Fast Air Chile B-707-320C… Fast Air was merged into Chilean carrier LADECO and finally LATAM Chile. Not only did it operate freighters, but passenger versions of the B-707 too.

Avianca B-707-312B, originally a Pan Am jet. Broken up in 1996, just 2 years after retirement from Avianca.


Caribbean Air Cargo operated this B-707-351C freighter for more than 8 years.

Key Air B-727-22… originally delivered to United Airlines in 1965, and after use by Allegheny Airlines and US Air, found itself in use by Key Airlines for almost 4 years before being scrapped a couple of years later, in 1985.

Dominicana B-727-173C, this jet was once operated by Japan Airlines, World Airways and PSA before being used for a year or so by Dominicana. It was scrapped in 1989, 11+ years after retirement.

LACSA B-727-200 This Costa Rican airline operated both the shorter and longer fuselage versions of the B-727.

Avianca B-727-259 first flew at the end of 1980, and was operated by Capitol Air, Sun Country Airlines, and LAB (Bolivia) later in life.

Haiti Air B-737-200 series was operated by this airline for less than a year… leased from Guinness Peat Aviation, before moving on to Canadian Airlines and others before ending her career in Venezuela.

Flying Tigers B-747-245F, this Boeing freighter was built new for Seaboard World Airlines in 1979 and scrapped in 2010, yielding an almost 30-year career.

Aerolineas Argentinas B-747-200B was one of 9 operated by the company.

Egyptair operated this Alitalia – owned B-747-243B jet for less than a year. After a number of subsequent owners, it was scrapped after 2006.

Saudi B-747-368 was operated by Saudia, then Saudi Arabian Airlines for 10 years.

China B-747SP-27 was delivered to CAAC – CivilAviation Administration of China in 1982, and operated by Air China for 5 years before moving on to other airlines. It was scrapped in 2004.

Korean Air B-747SP-B5 was one of only two that the airline operated.

Ladeco B-757-200 was delivered in 1992 to LADECO, in 2011 it was converted to a freighter. It was still active 31 years later with FedEx hauling packages.

United Airlines B-767-200 series, used by United Airlines from 1983 through 2005, then onto Gabon Airlines in 2007.

Continental Airlines Bae-146-200A was delivered new to Presidential Airlines in 1987, and wore Continental Express colors after that airline took over the assets of Presidential after the end of 1989.

Viasa DC-10-30 is one of a handful of DC-10s operated by Viasa between 1979 and 1998 before going to Iberia Airlines.

Many times I saw civilian and military executive transport jets stop to clear customs at JFK. N18LB is a Gulfstream G-III that left civilian hands around 1989, and was utilized by NASA ever since. It once wore N1NA as a NASA VIP transport, now N992NA as a testbed and sensor platform.

Tarom IL-62M operated by Tarom between 1977 and 1990.

Aeroflot IL-62MK, used by Aeroflot and as a State aircraft until scrapped approximately in 2013.

LTU L-1011-500 was operated by German airline LTU 1980- 1996, then by Royal Jordanian Airlines, scrapped in 1997.

American Airlines MD-11 was one of 19 the airline operated for a relatively short time, all sold to be converted to FedEx freighters by the end of 1989.

Skystar International B-707-321B served the airline for a little over 2 years.

Guyana Airways TU-154M Served this airline for 2 ½ years, then was in service with Cubana, and subsequently used in Iran and Russia.

Balair DC-10-30 HB-IHK was the only airframe of this type that the Swiss airline operated, between 1979 and 1993.

Air France Concorde 101s, last flown in 2000.

Kalitta Air Freight DC-8-50 series freighter, one of many operated by the freight carrier.

Westland 30 SRs 100-60 Operated by Omniflight Airways for Pan Am, the shuttle went between JFK and the 34th Street helicopter facility.

Some of the airlines back then… Olympic, Balair and Pan Am aren’t present in New York any more.

TWA had a major presence at JFK.

Lan Chile B-767 could make the flight from Santiago non-stop.

Speedbird B-747 after touching down at the JFK airport. 

Push back! Air France Concorde 001 is pushed back from its gate at JFK.

Maintenance being applied on this LOT IL-62M  in between flights to/from Warsaw.

British Airways – aka “Speedbird” operated two daily flights between JFK and London’s Heathrow airport. Photo taken from a New York Helicopter flight upon departure to either LaGuardia or Newark airport.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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