Starting Your Own Airline? Here Are 9 Former Airliners for Sale

Aug 17, 2019

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Looking to start your own airline? Want to own a piece of aviation history? You’re in luck. For as little as $325,000 you can buy your own airliner. Here are nine aircraft — from a DC-3 to a Boeing 777-200ER— available for purchase today.

Embraer EMB-120ER — $325,000

Registration: N71GL
Date built: 1988
Previously operated by: Great Lakes Airlines

While still pricey, we’re starting this list with one of the most reasonable airliners available for sale online. This Embraer EMB-120ER previously flew for the now-defunct Great Lakes Airlines. Built in 1988, it has flown a whopping 50,024 hours and recorded over 52,000 flight cycles. According to the seller, the aircraft still features a flight-ready passenger cabin with 30 economy class seats and a lavatory.

A Great Lakes Airlines Embraer EMB-120 at Denver International Airport (Image by rschider / via wikimedia)
A Great Lakes Airlines Embraer EMB-120 at Denver International Airport (Image by rschider / via wikimedia)

Douglas DC-3 — $995,000

Registration: NC33611
Date built: 1945
Previously operated by: CBS TV Private Aircraft

Although this Douglas DC-3 is painted in one of the earliest Pan Am liveries, it never actually flew for Pan Am. Additionally, the tail number is that of a former Pan Am DC-3, but it’s simply an homage to the now-defunct airline. The original NC33611 was damaged beyond repair shortly after it entered service. This particular DC-3 spent most of its time serving as the private aircraft for the American TV network CBS. It now features a luxe interior, the latest flight instruments and the stunning livery. If you’ve got $1 million lying around, you can own this piece of aviation history.

NC33611, a Douglas DC-3, wearing a historical Pan Am livery. (Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)
NC33611, a Douglas DC-3, wearing a historical Pan Am livery. (Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 — Price Upon Request

Registration: VP-CTF
Date built: 1989
Previously operated by: Midway Airlines, Reno Air, Spirit Airlines

Of all the aircraft on this list, this humble McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 features the most elaborate passenger cabin. Originally operated as a commercial airliner, this MD-87 has been retrofitted with a luxury interior. The cabin features numerous seating options, including plush couches that can be transformed into beds for overnight flights. It also features multiple lavatories and an expansive galley. Not only is the plane the perfect VIP transport, but it also comes with some history: It previously operated for Midway Airlines, Reno Air and Spirit Airlines. Both Midway and Reno Air have since merged with other airlines and Spirit Airlines has ditched its fleet of MD-80s for Airbus narrowbodies.

A 1989 McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 in its current livery. (Image courtesy of Bloomer deVere Dahlfors, Inc. via Controller.com)
A 1989 McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 in its current livery. (Image courtesy of Bloomer deVere Dahlfors, Inc. via Controller.com)

Embraer ERJ-140 — Price Upon Request

Registration: VH-ZJE
Date built: 2001
Previously operated by: JetGo Australia

Many of us actively avoid regional jets like the Embraer ERJ-140. However, this one might just change your mind. This ERJ-140 previously flew for Chautauqua Airlines, Shuttle America, and most recently the short-lived JetGo Australia. The aircraft is in great condition and features two working engines, and is still configured for commercial service.

VH-ZJE in JetGo Australia Livery. (Image by Bidgee / via wikimedia)
VH-ZJE in JetGo Australia Livery. (Image by Bidgee / via wikimedia)

Boeing 737-500 — $3,600,000

Registration: VP-BHA
Date built: 1992
Previously operated by: Sky Express

Available for $3.6 million, this Boeing 737-500 previously flew for the short-lived Sky Express, the first low-cost carrier based in Russia. It features 132 seats in an all-economy class layout. According to the seller, both engines are in working order. Since 1992, this 737-500 has racked up over 41,000 hours in the sky and just under 29,000 flight cycles.

Buy a Boeing 737-500 that formerly operated for the first Russian low-cost carrier. (Image by Steinadler / via wikimedia)
Buy a Boeing 737-500 that formerly operated for the first Russian low-cost carrier. (Image by Steinadler / via wikimedia)

Boeing 777-200ER — Price Upon Request

Registration: 5Y-KQS
Date built: 2005
Previously operated by: Kenya Airways

The seller hasn’t made the price available, but one can only assume that this aircraft is the most expensive on this list. Built in 2005, this 14-year-old Boeing 777-200ER comes passenger-ready with 322 seats — 28 in business class and 294 in economy. In its 14 years, this 777-200ER has racked up just over 37,000 hours of flight time.

Purchase your own Boeing 777-200ER, like the one pictured here. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Purchase your own Boeing 777-200ER, like the one pictured here. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Airbus A321 — $9,500,000

Registration: SU-TCG
Date built: 1998
Previously operated by: Metrojet, Thomson Airways

This Airbus A321 is just 21 years old and has a clean operating history. However, engine number two on this aircraft is listed as “unserviceable.” Still, this aircraft would be the ideal bird to launch your own airline as it’s still configured for passenger service. Previous operators filled this A321 to the brim, operating the aircraft — which features 210 seats — in an all-economy class layout. One can only assume the legroom isn’t great.

Own a 1998-model Airbus A321 for less than $10 million. (Image by CaronB / iStock / Getty Images)
Own a 1998-model Airbus A321 for less than $10 million. (Image by
CaronB / iStock / Getty Images)

Boeing 757-200 (without engines) — $4,800,000

Registration: ET-AJX
Date built: 1991
Previously operated by: Ethiopian Airlines

For just under $5 million you can own a 28-year-old Boeing 757-200. However, there’s a catch: It doesn’t come with any engines. Additionally, the previous operator, Ethiopian Airlines, reconfigured it as a freighter. Based on the most recent photos posted by the seller, this Boeing 757PCF (passenger-converted-freighter) isn’t in the best shape, either, so buyer beware.

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 757-200. (Image by Aldo Bidini / via wikimedia)
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 757-200. (Image by Aldo Bidini / via wikimedia)

Boeing 747-200 — Price Not Available

Registration: 3D-SGF
Date built: 1979
Previously operated by: Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir, Garuda Indonesia, multiple cargo carriers

Unfortunately, the price of this late 1970s Boeing 747-200 is not available online. Since all four engines appear to be included in this purchase, one can only assume that the jumbo jet isn’t going for a penny under $10 million. Still, if you’ve got some spare change, you may want to consider it. Not only is the aircraft a few maintenance checks away from being ready to fly, but it also comes with a rich history.

It has racked up over 60,000 hours in-flight and over 17,000 flight cycles. The jumbo jet previously flew for Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir, Garuda Indonesia and Kalitta American International Airways. The most recent operators reconfigured it as a freighter, blocking all windows, adding a massive cargo door and gutting the passenger cabin.

There's never been a better time to buy your own Boeing 747. (Photo by: aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
There’s never been a better time to buy your own Boeing 747. (Photo by aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Bottom Line

As tempting as it is to drop seven figures on an Airbus narrow-body, it may not be the most practical purchase. If you want a taste of the authentic airliner experience but can’t afford a whole plane, consider buying parts from scrapped aircraft. There are multiple listings on sites like eBay, allowing you to purchase everything from old economy class seats to entire cockpits.

If the right plane for you isn’t on this list, there are numerous others for sale on popular sites like Controller.com and AircraftDealer.com. But before you click Buy Now, make sure you have the best credit card for large purchases in your wallet.

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Featured image by RamonBerk / iStock / Getty Images

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