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Lufthansa Brings Last 747 Out of Storage From Twente Airport
German flag carrier, Lufthansa, has brought their last Boeing 747 out of storage from Twente Airport to be returned to service. The Twitter account for the Twente Airport in the Netherlands tweeted out photos of the German queen departing for Frankfurt. From there the aircraft will go through the process to return to regular passenger flight. The aircraft, D-ABTL, had been in storage at the Dutch airport for 15 months.
The last @lufthansa Boeing 747, #DLH1ENS, safely departed from Twente Airport today. After 15 months of parking, she flew back to Frankfurt to return to service. We wish you a lot of good flights with this Queen of the Skies! 🛩 pic.twitter.com/rUc7IhFmYx
— Twente Airport (@twenteairport) September 20, 2021
Last year Lufthansa, like many carriers, sent nearly all of its large, long-haul aircraft to storage as the Covid-19 pandemic took its hold around the globe. As restrictions went in place, demand almost completely dried up for air travel. The Lufthansa Group, which includes Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Eurowings, and Brussel Airlines, parked 700 of the group’s 763 aircraft towards the end of March 2020. Demand has begun to pick up again as restrictions lift and vaccinations allow travel to resume.
The Boeing 747 became a heavy casualty of the pandemic. British Airways retired its entire fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft in October last year. The airline had been one of the largest passenger operators of the aircraft prior to the onset of the pandemic. The airline was expected to keep the aircraft till 2050 and had even refreshed the interior of some aircraft prior to being parked. KLM and Qantas, also large passenger operators of the 747, retired their fleet of Boeing 747 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Retirements Speed Up Due to Pandemic
Even before the pandemic the Boeing 747 was declining in use in passenger operations. The onset of more fuel-efficient long haul aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, has led airlines to retire the Queen of the Skies. However, the airliner still remains popular with cargo and ad-hoc operators, like UPS, Atlas Air, and Cargolux. Cargo airlines use older aircraft as they can be cheaply acquired and they use the aircraft less frequently than passenger airlines.
The Boeing 747 wasn’t the only aircraft casualty from the pandemic. Lufthansa announced last year that it would retire its Airbus A380 aircraft completely due to the pandemic. Some of Lufthansa’s A380 aircraft were only six years old when they were retired. The decision is opposite to British Airways, who although retiring their Boeing 747, have announced that their fleet of Airbus A380’s will return to service at some point.
The emptying of stored aircraft shows that air travel is beginning to rebound as preventative measures for Covid-19 become widely available. The return of the last 747 from Twente also coincided with the announcement from the United States government to allow vaccinated UK and EU citizens to enter the country again. The border had been closed to UK and EU citizens since March 2020 as a strong mitigation method to prevent the spread of the then little-known virus. This combined with the lessening of restrictions across the continent should give European carriers a glimpse of life for what was looking to be another dark winter.
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