Even as recently as the 1990s it was still quite common to see older propliner aircraft flying in most parts of the world.
While modern jets and turboprops have long since replaced propliners in the fleets of major airlines, there are thankfully still a few flying regularly even today, and not just as part of heritage operations.
Here are some countries that still have airlines flying propliners:
This collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean are a part of New Zealand. They have their own local airline, known as Air Chathams, which has been flying an eclectic range of aircraft throughout its existence. Most notably are the only regularly passenger Convair 580s, as well as a Douglas DC-3 used for pleasure flights.
You can often fly the Convair between New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, but for how much longer we’re not sure.
Still a bastion of propliners, Canada’s remote and rugged north is the perfect playground for old piston airliners to be used. Their durability and the harsh conditions marry perfectly, and you’ll find numerous airlines still making use of the types.
Most famous is Buffalo Airways, based at Yellowknife, Hay River and Red Deer. Although they don’t fly passenger services any more, their fleet of Curtiss C-46, Douglas DC-3s (as well as Lockheed Electras) are well used and famous among the aviation community.
Other airlines like Nolinor also use Convair 580s in charter and cargo services (though admittedly this is a turbo-powered propliner!).
There are propliner operators across Africa, flying cargo and sightseeing trips with types like the Douglas DC-3.
In South Africa, heritage operator Skyclass Aviation still flies the DC-3 and DC-4 on safari and sightseeing trips.
The difficult jungle terrain of southern Colombia was perfectly matched to old propliners like the DC-3, which had a long life of serving remote communities out of bases like Villavicencio. Sadly the number of operators and aircraft has dwindled in recent years, but you can still see them flying with local carriers (not that we recommend travelling to this region).
Thankfully you can also often see piston types at Colombia’s main hubs, like Bogota and Medellin.
The state of Alaska, like northern Canada, is a remote wilderness where tiny communities rely on aircraft to deliver supplies, care, workers and passengers. At the state’s two main airports, in Anchorage and Fairbanks, a few local carriers exist to serve these needs, with aircraft ranging from small Cessnas up to large airliners.
Airlines like Everts Air Cargo fly the Douglas DC-6 and Curtiss C-46 here, and there are other carriers still operating the DC-3 around Alaska. A spotting trip to either of these main airports is like going back in time – apart from the presence of modern Boeing and Airbus types in the mix!
If you want to know more about how to fly on rare and historic airliners before they are lost for good, we produce a guide known as Last Chance to Fly. This is updated regularly with the latest information.
Available exclusively to our Airport Spotting Premium Members.