Jump on Google Earth and navigate to the Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport in Saskatchewan, Canada, and you’ll find two dozen defunct Fokker F28 Fellowship passenger aircraft stored out on the airfield. The short range jet airliners have been grounded since 2003, when their operator Canadian Regional Airlines was amalgamated into what became known as Air Canada Jazz.
At one time, Canadian Regional Airlines was the largest regional carrier in Canada, and the Fokker F28 Fellowship was the backbone of their operation. But as Canada.com reports: “These days, pigeons are the only passengers on the 23 derelict Fokker F-28 jets at the Saskatoon airport.”
The abandoned aircraft are stored at two sites on Saskatoon’s Diefenbaker International Airport. One group can be seen outside their former maintenance hangar in the main technical area. The others are parked on a more neglected patch of land about half a mile to the north.
Despite the fact that Canadian Regional Airlines’ – and later Air Canada Jazz’ – Fokker F28 fleet consisted of 23 aircraft, there appear to be 24 grounded Fellowship jets at the facility (13 airframes make up the southern group and 11 to the north). Bing Maps, meanwhile, shows the mothballed passenger planes stored together outside their hangar.
Canada.com writes: “They were once the mainstay of Canadian Regional Airline’s operations in Western Canada, when the airline employed almost 100 people in Saskatoon including pilots, cabin crew, skilled aircraft mechanics and groomers. But by 2002, most were bought out or transferred by new operator Air Canada Jazz and the maintenance base was closed.”
The site added: “At that time the domestic air industry was reeling from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and Air Canada faced new competition from WestJet. The noisy, ageing and costly to operate F-28s were then either sold or stripped for parts. Those that remain will never fly again.”
Designed by Dutch plane builder Fokker, the F28 Fellowship was a short range regional jet and first flew in May 1967. The airliner entered service two years later and a number are still flying today. Those in the airplane graveyard at Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport, however, will never fly again.