Only 30 Passenger Boeing 747s Are Currently In Operation

Only 30 passenger Boeing 747s are currently in operation as a result of the present global aviation situation. Many airlines have grounded the queen of the skies, alongside other four-engined aircraft such as the Airbus A340 and Airbus A380.

IATA, Social Distancing, Face Masks
Just 30 Boeing 747s are currently operational. Photo: Getty Images

The current pandemic has shaken the industry upside down. Some airlines have been forced to suspend services entirely. Many airlines have been sending aircraft into long term storage, with some even retiring entire fleets of aircraft early. However, despite this, some airlines are still flying the world’s largest planes, albeit on a much-reduced scale.

30 passenger Boeing 747s flying

Cirium are experts when it comes to aviation data and analytics. The company looks at thousands of different variables throughout the year, culminating in their annual on-time performance report. Last year Russian flag carrier Aeroflot came out on top.

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More recently, the aviation data and analytics experts have been keeping a keen eye on the effects of the current pandemic on the aviation industry. Most recently, Rob Morris, Global Head of Consultancy at Ascend by Cirium, has been looking into the latest Boeing 737 and 747 data.

Teruel, Aircraft Graveyard, Photos
Many Boeing 747s across the world are currently in storage. Photo: Getty Images

In total, there are 502 Boeing 747s currently flying, in storage, or on order by airlines. This is split between 162 passenger 747s and 347 cargo aircraft. Interestingly, the breakdown between active and stored passenger 747s is almost mirrored in the data for cargo variants.

Of the 162 passenger aircraft, only 30 (19%) are active. The remaining 132 are in storage. German flag carrier Lufthansa is operating several of the Boeing 747s still operational.

Boeing 747, Passenger 747, Operational
Most cargo Boeing 747s are still operational. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Cirium

The inverse is almost true for cargo variants. Demand for cargo transport has shot up, as space in the bellies of passenger planes has dried up. As such, only 24 (7%) of cargo 747s are stored. 308 (89%) are currently in active service, while 15 (4%) are still on order from Boeing. So far this year, Boeing has only delivered one new 747 aircraft.

Why are most passenger 747s grounded?

So why are most of the world’s passenger Boeing 747s grounded, after all, the aircraft is one of the most iconic designs in just over a century of aviation. Right now, it seems as though the large capacity of the plane has proven to be its downfall.

Passenger demand, while slowly recovering, is still far below where it was this time last year. On the majority of routes currently being flown, smaller aircraft than the 747 are comfortably able to manage demand.

Virgin Atlantic, Boeing 747, The Falcon
Some Boeing 747s have been retired earlier than planned. Photo: Getty Images

The aircraft is also faced with the four-engine problem, also being felt by the A380 and A340. In general, before the current pandemic, there was already a trend of retiring these aircraft due to their reduced efficiency.

Have you flown on a Boeing 747 since the current pandemic began? Let us know your experiences in the comments!