The Luxair Confusion

Among photographers and slide collectors worldwide there’s been a great confusion about the various Luxair aircraft. Same thing with some production list books / sites of 747SP’s.

I will do my best to clarify the confusion and explain how I came to my conclusion on these aircraft.

Background

Luxavia was a charter company flying holiday charters from Luxembourg. Luxavia was a joint venture between Trek Airways (South Africa) and Luxair (Luxembourg), enabling Trek Airways to avoid the repercussions of widespread anti-Apartheid boycotts.
The plan was for Luxavia to lease a 747SP from South African Airways in 1980 and operate it between Luxembourg and South Africa as Luxair, avoiding the apartheid sanctions and enabling a direct route across africa.

ZS-SPF

September 14, 1980 South African 747SP ZS-SPF ( c/n: 21263 ) went into the hangar at Johannesburg for an A-check. It was inside the hangar between September 14:th and October 3:rd when it was rolled out.
It had now been painted into the basic Luxair colours but without any titles, still wearing the ZS-SPF registration.
It departed JNB for ZRH the same day as SA272.

ZS-SPA

October 14, 1980 South African 747SP ZS-SPA ( c/n: 21132 ) was rolled into the hangar at JNB.
For a possible A-check ?
The work order below shows it was scheduled for repaint into Luxavia (Luxair) colours on October 21, 1980. So the aircraft was rolled in again, or remained in the hangar for the paint job.

South African Maintenance Planning and work order for ZS-SPA
South African Maintenance Planning and work order for ZS-SPA

The aircraft was painted into the full Luxair colours and a new registration: LX-LTM.
Registration -LTM after the Trek Airways founder and captain “Tom Meredith”.
The roll out is believed to have been at the end of October (22:nd ?) for publicity.

LX-LTM 747SP Luxair

The plans were quickly stopped as the media made a big fuzz about how South African tried to avoid apartheid sanctions by flying as Luxair. According to info it was made big in the British newspaper Sunday Times.
The aircraft was quickly rolled into the hangar again and the Luxair titles were removed and the original registration put back on; ZS-SPA.

In the maintenance files it was blocked as LX-LTM and not to be scheduled as SAA operations during the Luxair lease, but this was corrected by Tipp-Ex as seen below.

Route planning Schedule for South African B747’s October 1980
Route planning Schedule for South African B747’s October 1980 (Enhanced version to reveal the tippex:ed part)

The aircraft departed JNB as flight 184 on October 29:th. Possible Luxair flight ?
Next flight was SA272/273 (ZRH) on October 31:st.
Now operating without titles and basic Luxair livery as seen below.

ZS-SPA 747SP operating SA272/273 into ZRH with No Titles and basic Luxair livery in 1981-03-14

LX-LGX

On November 1st in 1987, Luxair leased a 747SP from South African Airways.
It was ZS-SPB (c/n: 21133) and re-registered as LX-LGX. It operated fully painted into Luxair colours.

in July of 1991 it was time for a scheduled maintenance check for LX-LGX and it went into the hangars at JNB for 3 months.
During this time, South African prepared another 747SP ZS-SPE (c/n: 21254) to be used by Luxair. This aircraft was painted all white with Luxair titles in black and re-registered as LX-LGY.
LX-LGX was returned to service in beginning of September 1991.
Luxair operated the aircraft for 2 more years, ending the lease September 2:nd 1993.

2 x LX-LGY

The registration LX-LGY has been used by Trek Airways and Luxair for a very long time.
Ever since Luxair operated the Lockheed L-1649A Starliner as LX-LGY back in the 1960’s.
It was also used twice on two different 747SP Aircraft.

LUXAIR

LX-LGY (c/n: 21254) was operated by Luxair during the maintenance of LX-LGX (from the beginning of July 1991) and was returned to South African on September 3:rd 1991.

UTA

On August 1:st in 1989 Luxair leased a 747SP from South African Airways again, this time ZS-SPE (c/n: 21263) re-registered to LX-LGY.

But this was only done to SUB-lease the aircraft to UTA, the French company. No 747SP had been registered into the French aircraft registry at this time, so they used LX-LGY and kept it on Luxembourg registry.

It was sub-leased to UTA the SAME DAY, August 1:st 1989. The aircraft was all white with UTA titles.

LX-LGY 747SP UTA c/n: 21263

UTA only operated the aircraft for 3 months and it was returned on the 31:st of October 1989.
So, it never operated with Luxair titles in 1989.

TIMELINE

So, to make the LX-LGX / LX-LGY confusion easy to see, I made this timeline.
It makes it easy to see when it was operated with Luxair titles.

Timeline of Luxair 747SP lease of LX-LGX and LX-LGY (click to enlarge)

I hope this clears things up.
Please leave a comment below if you have additional info on the subject.

Source:
Photos from our slide-collections.
Personal visits to South African Airways maintenance office and documents gathered from those visits by:
Tommy Mogren & Jan Mogren

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Tommy Mogren
Tommy Mogrenhttp://www.747sp.com
Passion 4 Aviation and the 747SP in particular. Photographer and video producer. YouTube | Viking Wings

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Tommy.
    I flew JHB to LUX many times in the late 80’s as we were obliged to since Trek was part owned by our holding company Rentmeester Beleggings.
    Sat in the co pilot’s chair and I once flew the SP around Nairobi as the ATC was asleep!
    The Captain was fairly elderly and I think it was the co pilot who owned a very nice classic car kept in the hangar at LUX.
    Those were the days and when SAA had to fly around the Bulge with a technical stop at Ilha da Sol amongst the Cubana de Aviacion aircraft ferrying soldiers to fight the SADF in Angola.
    The airstrip was apparently maintained by SAA which was quite ironic. Whilst visiting the gents during the fuel stop we often exchanged USD for rather moth eaten Cuban cigars that all their soldiers seemed to carry!!

  2. Hi Tommy

    Interesting to find your article. My Dad work d for Luxavia for 20 years until 1989 if I remember correctly. He was one of the Flight Navigators from UK. He’d been in the RAF. Later on the flight navigator’s retrained as flight engineers. I found your article because I was looking gor a copy of Tom Merrdith’s book telling the story about the airline. I think it was Tom Meredith who wrote it. We have on copy from my late parents but we are two sisters. I wonder if you know where or how I could get a copy of the book from. Best Karen

  3. Hi Karen,
    I wish I could help with the book. I am also looking for a copy of the book. Would very much like to read it..
    Sounds like your Dad had a great career!
    Thanks for commenting.

  4. Note that LX-LGX was re-registered ZS-SPB again in 1993 and continued to operate for Luxavia in TREK Colours with Flitestar callsigns on the LUX/JNB/LUX route three times a week (of which two flights made a stop in MUC).
    Operations were ceased with the last flight taking of in LUX on the 11th April 1994.

  5. Wow! What interesting read of an amazing airline! I flew S Cabin Crew (later Purser)from 1 Oct 1980- 1994 when the airline ceased to operate. It was a brilliant operation and a true aviation family. I do have Captain Meredith’s book but hesitant to lend it out! A beautiful piece of aviation history. Loyal staff. Happy memories of those days!

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