Qantas Ends its Long Affair With the Boeing 747

A half century of aviation history ended at Qantas with the early retirement of its remaining Boeing 747-400ERs.


Qantas Ends its Long Affair With the Boeing 747. Photo: Sam Chui

At the beginning of the year, Qantas was still operating its last six 747-400ERs. All of the jumbos were eventually going to be retired before 2021 rolled around. 


The carrier had said that these aircraft have already been sold and will not return to passenger service, though they might be used for rescue flights due to the coronovirus crisis and worldwide grounding of the Qantas international flight.

Qantas, completed its final Boeing 747 flight from Santiago, Chile to Sydney on March 29th. The flight departed Santiago at 2:12 p.m. local time and arrived in Sydney at 5:30 p.m. local time.


Qantas B747-400 in OneWorld livery Photo: Sam Chui


VH-OEE performed Qantas last passenger flight with callsign QF28. The aircraft performed a low pass flyover of the Sydney Harbor before touching down at Sydney International Airport.

According to a press release, there will be more than 220 pilots losing their jobs due to the jet’s retirement. Additionally, at least 1,050 cabin crew members and at least 630 engineers will loose their jobs.

The Australian carrier is planning to suspend all of its international flights until the end of October as per recommendations from Australia's federal government. Qantas has also decided to ground its entire fleet of A380s and 747s along with other many aircraft.


Qantas has also decided to ground entire fleet of A380s until 2023. Photo: Sam Chui


Though, the airline were expected to resume its A380 operations in September, now the aircraft will be grounded for at least 2023. They are heading to California for long term storage.



Half Decade Rich History


Qantas received its first Boeing 747 in 1971, which was a -200 variant. Qantas has operated every version of the Boeing 747 series except the 747-8. 


Qantas's first 747-400 flew the then World's longest flight, after it completed the flight from London to Sydney back in 17th August, 1998. Qantas is also the sole operator of the extended range passenger variant 747-400ER.

Qantas is the sole operator of extended range passenger B747-400ER. Photo: Sam Chui

The Queen did wonders for the Australian flag carrier and helped the airline shape new industries in the nation.

The Boeing 747 jumbos was so popular among the Australians and the airline that the airline was only operating 747s by the end of 1970s. 

Qantas's Flagship

Qantas was operating 37 Boeing 747s divided among five variants during its peak year in 2000. These comprised 25 747-400s, six -300s, two -200Bs, two -200B Combis, and a pair of long-range 747SPs.


Qantas operated 37 Boeing 747s in 2000. Photo: Sam Chui


As of 31 December 2000, there were a total of 680 passenger Boeing 747s in service with airlines across the globe. 

Qantas’s 37 Boeing 747s accounted for 5.4% of the global 747 fleet. Qantas and All Nippon Airways (ANA), tied as the fourth largest operators of the type after British Airways (71), Japan Airlines (68), and United Airlines (44).

Qantas Chief Executive paid tribute to the Boeing 747 saying:

“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.”


Boeing 747 allowed Qantas improve its global presence. Photo: Sam Chui


Already Sold

These premature aircraft are already sold by the airline. However, the new owner is not disclosed yet. These aircraft are being ferried to Majove in California.

The Qantas 747 has no direct replacement in Qantas fleet in terms of capacity. But this may change with Project Sunrise, when the carrier will introduce Airbus A350-1000 into its fleet.


Qantas selected the Airbus A350-1000 for its Project Sunrise. Photo: Qantas


Most of the carriers former Boeing 747 routes have already been replaced by the newer, fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. 

Have you even been on board Qantas Boeing 747?  Feel free to share your best Qantas 747 memories in the comments below: 

2 Comments

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  2. I fell in love with a "Jumbo Jet" in January 1970 as she stood on the tarmac at Eagle Farm in Brisbane. I never fell out of love and have travelled on her successors more times than I can count. I now mourn the passing of Qantas's Boeing 747, no longer a "Jumbo Jet", but the undisputed "Queen of the Skies".

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