The regular feature of the Queen of the Skies will be missed by crew and travelers alike. While many airlines have seen the Boeing 747 bow out of service sooner than expected, some carriers still operate the iconic plane on regular routes.
Most airlines had planned to retire the long-serving Queen of the Skies sometime soon, even before the turbulent year of 2020. The iconic silhouette of the Boeing 747 was to make way for more fuel-efficient and economically attractive twin-jets. However, the past year’s events had repercussions for commercial aviation of a magnitude no one had foreseen, and the Queen began an early mass exodus from airline fleets.
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How many are still left at the end of 2020?
The world’s largest operator of passenger 747s, British Airways, retired the last of its jumbo jets last month. KLM, initially intending to let the plane go at the beginning of 2021, also said goodbye to the final of its Queens in October. The airline had only brought back the two quad-jets, officially taken out of service in March, to assist in cargo efforts. Australian flag-carrier Qantas also retired its 747s earlier this year.
After more than 50 years of history, Boeing has announced that it will halt all production of the 747 once final (freighter) deliveries are made. So where in the world could you still fly on one of the most recognizable and beloved planes through history, should you so desire?
Air China still operates a fleet of three 24-year old Boeing 747-400s and a full seven of the newer 747-8s. At the moment, they are operating on domestic routes, mostly out of Beijing. The 747-8 daily to Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guangzhou, and the 747-400 daily to Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The 747-8 is also scheduled on flights from Shanghai to Guangzhou twice daily.
Air India still officially has four 747-400s in its fleet. However, only one of them, VT-EVA, is currently listed as active. If you find yourself in India, you can currently catch it daily on Air India’s Delhi to Mumbai route.
Asiana has a whole host of 747s. Twelve, in fact. Only, all but one are freighters. Its lone passengers 747-400, HL7428, is operating routes between Seoul and destinations in China, such as Chengdu and Changchun.
Korean normally operates two 747-400 passenger jets; however, they are both currently parked. It also has ten passenger 747-8s. Unfortunately, they are all also listed as parked. While the carrier has not disclosed any plans for its jumbos, it is difficult to say how many will return to active service. Meanwhile, Korean’s twelve 747 freighters are all still flying.
The German flag-carrier has stored all of its twelve 747-400s and 12 out of its 19 747-8s. It recently replaced the jumbo with A350s on some of its routes out of Frankfurt. Meanwhile, the airline has said that it will not retire the Queen early and will phase out its 747-400s by mid-decade, as was always the intention.
Iranian Mahan Air has two 747 in its fleet. One of them is something so rare these days as a 747-300. However, that grand old lady is listed as stored, and her future remains unclear. Meanwhile, the carrier operates a 747-400, also over 30 years old, currently flying domestically between Kerman and Tehran.
Rossiya Russian Airlines
Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya operates a fleet of nine about 20-year old 747-400s. While seven of them are listed as parked, the remaining two are operating flights to leisure or other destinations. EI-XLF is flying between St Petersburg and Antalya in Turkey, and EI-XLH flew from Sharjah International Airport in the UAE to Moscow on November 9th.
Would you travel with an airline specifically to get the chance to fly on the Queen of the Skies again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.