Tags: Richard, Ziskind
I had a few years working for UTA Frenach Airline in the Cargo and Passenger business. We were a great airline that is why Air France purchased our company.
This is quite an old photo - Probably taken in the early eighties or late seventies. For those who might not have heard of it, UTA was the second-largest French Airline (behind Air France) for a long time, and, unusually, was fully privately owned.
The airline's network centered on francophone destinations in Africa, the middle east, and a few places further afield such as French Polynesia, Reunion, Australia & New Zealand, Malaysia, and for a time the west coast of the United States. It was Africa that was the airline's bread and butter for many years - and for almost 20 years it operated the largest network of African destinations of any airline.
Prior to 1986, management tended to select routes where UTA would not face major direct competition from Air France, and indeed the Government of France would probably not have allowed them to compete directly with Air France in many cases. UTA was also a big investor in Cote D'Ivoire-based Air Afrique and in Air Inter, a major French Domestic carrier.
UTA was unusual in that it was a privately owned major airline with a big international network, not a privately owned charter or short-haul carrier, which have historically been more common.
After 1986, the French Government relaxed restrictions on air routes and UTA began to compete directly with Air France on some routes. But at the same time, UTA's plans to form a European feeder network were hampered by labor disputes, and the airline lost its monopoly on the Paris-Papeete route as part of the liberalization of air route regulation. After 1988, the French Government appealed to the three major carriers - Air France, Air Inter, and UTA, to work in concert rather than compete against each other, which resulted in the mega-merger of all three carriers in 1990. UTA and Air Inter's operations were gradually absorbed into a larger Air France thereafter.
UTA's Africa network meant that it had an active cargo division, and in addition to two new-build 747-200F's (like the one seen here, F-GPAN, msn: 21515), it also operated several 747-200 and 747-300 Combis and, later, took one more 747-200F on lease from Air France. The final aircraft to be delivered to UTA, in 1991, was a 747-400 Combi, which is still in service with Air France. UTA also operated every version of the 747 except the new -8, having operated a -100 and an SP on short term leases in the late 1980s. The airline also operated eight DC-8-55CFs and a trio of DC-8-60 freighters.Sadly, the aircraft seen here was written off in 1998 after landing with the nosegear up at Maastricht Aachen.
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