Boeing has confirmed it will end production of its iconic B747 jumbo aircraft in 2022.
The manufacturer said the decision had been made “in light of the current market dynamics and outlook” – in recent weeks carriers including Qantas and British Airways have both retired their B747 fleets.
Boeing has around 16 B747s still to deliver, all of which are freighter versions of the aircraft. Korean Air (pictured above) and Lufthansa have the biggest passenger fleets of the latest B747-8 variant.
The move was confirmed in a letter to employees from Boeing’s president and CEO Dave Calhoun, in which he described the past few months as “unlike anything we’ve seen”.
“The reality is the pandemic’s impact on the aviation sector continues to be severe,” said Calhoun.
“Though some fliers are returning slowly to the air, their numbers remain far lower than 2019, with airline revenues likewise reduced.
“This pressure on our commercial customers means they are delaying jet purchases, slowing deliveries, deferring elective maintenance, retiring older aircraft and reducing spend – all of which affects our business and, ultimately, our bottom line.
“While there have been some encouraging signs, we estimate it will take around three years to return to 2019 passenger levels.”
The letter came as the manufacturer announced a second quarter loss of $2.4 billion, impacted by both the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ongoing grounding of the B737 Max.
The firm said it planned to further lower the production rates of aircraft including the B737, B787, B777, and the forthcoming B777X.
Confirming the completion of production of the B747 in 2022, Boeing said that “Our customer commitment does not end at delivery, and we’ll continue to support 747 operations and sustainment well into the future”.
In April the group announced plans to cut its global workforce by 10 per cent, but Calhoun said that “Regretfully, the prolonged impact of Covid-19 causing further reductions in our production rates and lower demand for commercial services means we’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce”.