First flown commercially by Pan American Airways in 1970, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet has been a mainstay of commercial aviation for the better part of four decades. Indeed, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific, cites the aircraft as a key factor in its success over the years.
But with United Airlines’ final B747 flight looming, ahead of its eventual full retirement in early November, and numerous other airlines following suit, we look at five airlines that have announced plans to or have recently retired the Queen of the Skies.
Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, is perhaps the most recent airline to retire the B747 from commercial service, having made the announcement just last week. The aircraft flew its final commercial flight on October 6 from Madinah to Makassar.
Originally joining the carrier’s fleet in 1994, the aircraft notably served destinations such as Beijing, Singapore and London – the airline recently announced it will begin flying non-stop between Jakarta and London from October 31 using its Boeing 777-300ER. According to The Jakarta Post, the aircraft logged about 89,900 hours of flying time. garuda-indonesia.com
Taiwan’s Eva Air retired its own B747 back in August, following its final flight from Hong Kong to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (Eva Air says the exact aircraft that will replace the B747 on this route will depend on fleet rotation flexibility, though its schedule shows an A321-200).
The airline did, however, mark the retirement in notable fashion – quite literally – using the opportunity to unveil its new crew uniform, only the third time the carrier has revamped its staff outfits in its history. evaair.com
Having originally joined United’s fleet in July 1970 flying its first flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, the B747 is going full circle, retiring on November 7 after making its last flight on the very same route it debuted on close to half a century ago. According to USA Today, seats on the farewell flight sold out in under two hours.
The aircraft is making its final international flight on October 29 from Seoul to San Francisco, after which the B787-9 Dreamliner will take over on the route. United currently has nine B747s in its fleet, though after October 29 this will drop to just two, which will operate on domestic legs until November 7.
Delta has only just begun retiring its B747 from service, but did so last month with the first of its B747 retirements after the aircraft flew from Tokyo Narita to Honolulu.
The US airline expects to retire the remainder of its B747s by the end of 2017, replacing the aircraft with its Airbus A350, the first of which it took delivery of in July and is expected to begin flying on Delta’s Detroit-Tokyo Narita route from October 30. delta.com
Qantas may plan to continue utilising its six B747-400ER jumbo jets, but that’s not stopping it from retiring its B747-400s over the next few years as it looks to take delivery of its B787-9 Dreamliners – the first of which it officially unveiled yesterday.
The retirement of its five B747-400s began in August when the carrier said farewell to aircraft VH-OJM, which was delivered to the airline back in 1991 and racked up enough miles to fly to the moon and back 120 times. qantas.com
Air France retired its B747 in January 2016 after more than 45 years of service, going between Mexico City and Paris.
Singapore Airlines retired its B747 in 2012, flying from Singapore to Hong Kong after being in its fleet for some 40 years.
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) both last operated the B747 years ago, flying the last of their aircraft in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Japan Airways’ flew the popular international retirement route from Honolulu back to Tokyo Narita, while All Nippon Airways’ B747 was retired after its last Tokyo Haneda-Okinawa service.
The same year as ANA’s retirement, Air New Zealand flew its last B747 flight from San Francisco to Auckland.