Breaking: Qantas Confirms Immediate 747 Retirement, Schedules Farewell Flights

JV MehtaSTAFF | 07/05/2020

VH-OEJ, a Qantas Boeing 747-400ER named Wunala, taxis at Sydney's Kingford Smith International Airport (SYD). Credit: Ryan Allen | TheExplorerBlog


Qantas has just confirmed the retirement of their Boeing 747-400 fleet with immediate effect. What has contributed to the demise of this iconic jet and why has its retirement been pushed up by six months?

The now-retired VH-OEB awaits its fate at Mississippi's Tupelo Regional Airport (TUP). Credit: Connor Nix | TheExplorerBlog


A History: Qantas and the Boeing 747

The relationship between Qantas and Boeing's 747 family can best be described as a love affair. The Aussie airline used the jumbo jets to fly throughout the world, to locations throughout Europe, Asia, and the U.S. The 747s have even been known to perform Antarctica scenic flights. At the time of its use, the Boeing 747 (especially the -400ER) provided the range that Qantas needed, all while maintaining a very high passenger capacity allowing Qantas to get many passengers from Australia to cities such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santiago, and London. However, as air travel has evolved and Boeing and Airbus have paved the way for newer, more fuel-efficient twin jets, the "Queen of the Skies" has soon become a relic of the past. Once loved for its posh first-class cabins and renowned for its size, the 747 is now seen as a gas-guzzling quad-jet in dire need of replacement. And for Qantas, this came along in the form of Boeing's 787-9, which now serves many of the routes the 747 once did.


747 "Farewell Flights"

According to Simple Flying, Qantas Airways has also scheduled 3 "farewell flights" that depart in mid-July to celebrate the 747's long reign at the airline. These are scheduled to consist of hour-long scenic excursions that each depart from Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra. One business class ticket will aptly cost AU$747, while an economy class ticket will cost AU$400 (premium economy is reported to be saved for a few lucky Qantas employees). Tickets will reportedly be available this coming Tuesday, so rush to the Qantas website to book yours, and space is even more limited than you might think, since Qantas will not sell these flights to full capacity.


Qantas Airways Boeing 787-9
VH-ZND, named Yam Dreaming for its colorful Aboriginal livery, is one of the many Boeing 787s that will replace the Queen of the Skies. Credit: Winston Shek | TheExplorerBlog

Qantas's Future

According to OneMileAtATime, Qantas plans to "ground up to 100 aircraft for up to 12 months (some for longer), including most of the international fleet," "retire all six Boeing 747s immediately, six months ahead of schedule," and defer A321neo and 787-9 deliveries. The coronavirus has seriously impacted the carrier's international fleet and hampered its ability to fill its planes. However, once the pandemic passes, it is probable that Qantas will continue to purge their fleet of old aircraft, which probably includes the A330 (and maybe even A380), which are due to be replaced by the Boeing 787-9 and A350-1000 (tentatively) in the coming years. Either way, the world now sadly has to wave goodbye to Qantas's remaining fleet of six 747s a full six months early, due to the large decrease in air travel numbers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Long live the Queen!



OMAAT (onemileatatime.com)

Simple Flying (simpleflying.com)

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