China Airlines Brings Forward Some Boeing 747 Freighter Retirements

China Airlines has today revealed that it had reduced the expected service life of 14 of its Boeing 747-400 freighters by a year. The airline also announced that the service life of three of its Airbus A330-300 aircraft would be cut by two years.

China Airlines, Boeing 747-400F, Retirement
China Airlines has revealed that most of its Boeing 747-400F fleet will have its service life shortened. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Last year, Taiwanese carrier China Airlines retired its last passenger Boeing 747. This took place slightly behind schedule due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the airline’s cargo Boeing 747-400s still have some life in it, the board of directors has voted to cut their planned service life by a year, according to a filing issued today.

14 Boeing 747s to retire early

In the filing issued by China Airlines, the airline revealed that 14 of the airline’s Boeing 747-400 freighters would have their planned service life cut by a year, from 25 years to 24. This is due to changes in the fleet plan put into place at the start of the year.

China Airlines, Boeing 747-400F, Retirement
According to the new timeline, the oldest aircraft still has a couple of years left. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

According to data from, China Airlines currently has 18 Boeing 747-400(FSCD) aircraft. FSCD stands for Freighter – side cargo door. All are listed as active apart from two younger jets listed as being in maintenance. According to the portal, the oldest aircraft, B-18701, is only 21.59 years old, suggesting it still has at least two more years ahead of it, given the airline’s revised service life.

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Three Airbus A330-300s are also affected

The filing also reveals that three of the airline’s Airbus A330-300s will also meet a swifter than had been anticipated end. These aircraft had been due to fly for 20 years but have now had this cut to 18 years. According to‘s data, China Airlines has 23 A330-300s.

China Airlines, Boeing 747-400F, Retirement
Three of the airline’s A330s will be retired a couple of years early. Photo: Getty Images

It’s unclear which of these will find their retirement plans accelerated, though there is one obvious candidate. B-18301 is a 17.66-year-old jet listed as stored. It would make sense if this aircraft didn’t return to the skies for the Asian airline.

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Passenger 747s already retired

Like many airlines across the globe, China Airlines has already bid farewell to the passenger variant of the Jumbo Jet. The airline planned to operate a final farewell flight with the Boeing 747 on February 6th, 2021. This ended up being delayed due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China Airlines, Boeing 747, Retirement
The airline had to postpone its passenger 747 retirement due to COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

Following the delay to proceedings, the airline was able to complete a five-hour special scenic flight to nowhere, passing Mount Fiji with a bunch of avgeeks onboard. The aircraft operating the flight was the last Boeing 747-400 to be built by Boeing with passengers in mind, making it a special airframe. The airline first began flying the Boeing 747-100 around 47 years ago, suggesting that the Queen of the Skies will easily clock half a century at the carrier.

What do you make of China Airlines’ revised fleet plans? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!