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A Qantas Boeing 747-400 on final approach. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

Qantas Will Pay Tribute to Its 747s with Farewell Flights

Qantas employees were notified that the company will operate three farewell flights with one of its 747s in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra in mid-July with tickets available to the public, giving passengers a chance to take one last trip on the jumbo jet. The aircraft will fly over Sydney on July 13, Brisbane on July 15 and Canberra on July 17.

The Australian airline company had tremendous success with the Boeing 747 since it entered service. Qantas operated its 747s as the flagship aircraft of its long-haul fleet until the A380 arrived in 2008.  The airline also operated the jet on its transcontinental seasonal flights between Perth, Sydney and Melbourne for many years.

The Boeing 747 and Qantas have a long-standing history. It had been the flagship aircraft of the airline since 1971 when the first aircraft joined the airline. The 747 allowed Qantas to enhance its global commercial network by strengthening its long-haul fleet. Qantas retired its Boeing 707 fleet in 1979, becoming the only all-Boeing-747 carrier in the world.

Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400, registered VH-OJA, performed a record-breaking non-stop 20-hour flight from London to Sydney when it was delivered to the airline in July 1989. The airline received its 60th and the last 747 new from Boeing in 2003.

The airline announced on June 25 that it would retire six remaining 747s immediately and six months ahead of schedule as part of the company’s recovery plan in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. The airline’s original plan was to keep a total of six aircraft, which would continue to operate until the end of 2020.

“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,” previously said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

At least 1,050 cabin crew, 220 pilots and 630 engineering staff will be laid off due to early retirement of the 747s as announced by the airline.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Will Become the Airline’s Flagship Aircraft

In 2018, Qantas placed an order for six additional Boeing 787-9s to operate its long-haul network, looking to bring its fleet of Dreamliners to 14 by the end of 2020. However, three Dreamliner aircraft deliveries have been deferred due to financial turmoil caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” said Joyce.

“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 is more cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and has a longer range. Qantas is also looking to expand its network in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe with a larger fleet of Dreamliners.

Bulent Imat
Bulent Imat
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