The Boeing 727 was one of the first airliners to experience great success and over a thousand airframes built.
It was developed in the early 1960s as Boeing looked to follow up the success of the 707 and 720 with a smaller airliner that was able to operate on short- and medium-haul routes, particularly on domestic services across America where airports often had smaller runways and passenger loads did not justify a 707.
These routes were still largely populated by older piston-engine airliners, with airliners ready to make the switch to jet aircraft.
However, aside from its widespread use in America, the Boeing 727 also saw significant success around the world.
In Europe, many mainline and leisure carriers opted for the 727 to bolster their fleets and offer the latest in comfort and speed to passengers, and the type soldiered on into the late 1990s in some cases.
Here are the key airlines in Europe which flew the Boeing 727:
The French national carrier flew 29 of the larger 727-200 model between 1968 and 1992, until the Airbus A320 took over.
Air Charter International
This French charter airline leased four 727-200s from Air France between 1972-1995.
Italy’s national airline also opted for the 727-200, flying them on domestic, European and African services over a relatively short period between 1977 and 1985.
One of the main Yugoslavian charter airlines, Aviogenex flew five Boeing 727-200s, with the first two arriving in 1983. They were retired in the 1990s.
Germany’s principal charter airline, affiliated with Lufthansa for much of its life, flew both the 727-100 and -200 on its leisure services.
Seven -100s operated from 1966 to 1982, while eight -200s flew between 1973-1989.
The British scheduled and leisure airline was the first in the country to operate the 727, and it necessitated modifications to the airframes to satisfy certification requirements. It flew both the 727-100 and -200, with the first arriving in 1973, and some still being flown when the airline merged with British Airways in 1992.
European Air Transport
The Belgian cargo airline, operating as part of DHL, flew 727-100 freighters from 1990-2003, and -200 freighters from 1994-2003.
The German leisure airline which today is a part of the TUI group previously flew Boeing 727s on its charter routes. It operated seven 727-100s and three -200s during the 1970s and 80s.
Spain’s national airline had a strong association with the Boeing 727. It only ever flew the -200 model, but these were the mainstay of its domestic and European network from 1972 until the last was retired in 2001. It was common to see them at many airports.
Icelandair’s first venture into jet aircraft was the Boeing 727-100 in 1966, replacing older Douglas DC-4, DC-6 and Vickers Viscount airliners.
The airline also flew the 727-200 between 1980-1990. A total of five 727s across both variants were flown.
JAT Yugoslav Airlines
The national carrier of the former Yugoslavia flew the Boeing 727-200 between 1970 and 2005 (when the airline was latterly the national carrier of Serbia).
The German national carrier used an extensive fleet of Boeing 727s from 1964 until 1993.
It flew both the 727-100 and -200, with some 57 examples in total flown by the airline on its domestic and European services.
The arrival of more Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family aircraft saw the 727 retired in the 1990s.
Greece’s national airline used the Boeing 727 as a gap between its larger 707s and smaller 737s, with two 727-100s operated initially, followed by ten larger -200s.
The former national airline of Belgium flew six 727-100s from 1967-78, and a single -200 in 1997, however it focussed more on its 737 fleet which became the mainstay of its European services.
The Danish charter airline Sterling Airways used three Boeing 727-200s during the 1970s, 80s and early 90s on higher capacity routes, with its Sud Aviation Caravelles used on thinner routes.
TAP Air Portugal
Another European national carrier, TAP Air Portugal, flew the Boeing 727-100 and -200 – the former between 1967 and 1989, and the latter from 1975 to 1991.
Some of the aircraft were leased to leisure partner carrier Air Atlantis in 1986.
This Swedish charter airline flew four Boeing 727-100s from 1967 for a few years.
Before its large Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family fleets were introduced, Turkish Airlines relied on its 14 Boeing 727-200s for much of its European and Middle Eastern network. They were added to the fleet in the 1970s and retired in 1996.
Other European Boeing 727 Operators
Air Alfa, Turkey
Flew two 727-200s.
Air Commerce, Yugoslavia
Single 727-200 leased from JAT in 1991.
Air Holland, Netherlands
Flew three 727-200s from 1985-88.
Air Malta, Malta
Flew 727-200s in the 1980s.
Albatros Airlines, Turkey
Flew one 727-200 from 1992-93.
Another Turkish charter airline. It flew two 727-200s in 1994.
Cyprus Turkish Airlines, North Cyprus
A charter airline operating from the Turkish side of Cyprus, known as KTHY. It flew four Boeing 727-200s.
This German airline leased two 727-100s from Hapag-Lloyd in 1978, but they didn’t last long.
Istanbul Airlines, Turkey
A Turkish leisure airline. It flew 727-200s in the 1980s and 90s.
An airline that only lasted a year, from 1984-85, was Jetair, based at Munich. It flew a single 727-100.
A British charter airline. Founded in 1994 it flew a fomer Dan-Air 727-200 from 1995.
The leisure arm of Belgian national carrier Sabena, Sobelair flew Boeing 727s briefly in 1995-96.
Sultan Air, Turkey
Sultan Air was a leisure airline based in Turkey. It flew two 727-200s from 1989-93.
TUR European Airlines, Turkey
During the 1990s it was common to see the four 727-200s of this charter airline at airports in Germany an the UK. It closed down in 1994.
Our book of nostalgic photographs of lost airlines and former colour schemes of airlines from across Europe includes pictures of Boeing 727s, as well as many other classic types.