Qantas is beginning the long goodbye to the Boeing 747, with the airline to withdraw them from service during 2020.
The final six Boeing 747-400’s will be withdrawn by the end of 2020, and will be replaced by six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft – bringing the total 787-9 fleet to 14.
Qantas has been operating and flying the Boeing 747 in various forms since 1971 (and your author flew aboard one in the 1990’s). For Qantas, it’s an end of their era as they bid farewell to the “Queen of the Skies”. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the announcement was an important moment for the national carrier.
“This really is the end of one era and the start of another. The jumbo has been the backbone of Qantas International for more than 40 years and we’ve flown almost every type that Boeing built. It’s fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020,” Mr Joyce said.
“Over the years, each new version of the 747 allowed Qantas to fly further and improve what we offered passengers. The Dreamliners are now doing the same thing.
“The 787 has better economics and a longer range, and its already opened up new routes like Perth to London. With a larger fleet of Dreamliners, we’ll be looking at destinations in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe.
“By the end of 2020 we’ll have farewelled the 747, finished upgrading the cabins of our A380s, and welcomed our fourteenth 787. That’s a great proposition for our customers and creates some really exciting opportunities for our people”
Whilst the Boeing 787-9 carries fewer people aboard than the 747 (with the 787-9 carrying 236, the 747 carrying 364), it will have a better focus on premium seating (both Business Class and Premium Economy). The additional six 787-9 aircraft will have the same interiors as the recently delivered aircraft.
In fleet sizes, Qantas operates four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft currently. Another four are due this year (2018), with the remaining six between 2019 through to mid/late 2020. The airline also operates 10 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which will be retired between July 2018 and the end of 2020.
A lot of people like the Boeing 747 – be it for the upper deck and the sheer space. However, with airlines seeking to improve economies and reduce maintenance costs, these ageing aircraft are costly to keep in the air.
With other airlines looking to end 747 operation in the future, the time to fly the Queen of the Skies is now…
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