KLM To Retire All Boeing 747’s By 2021

KLM will be retiring its Boeing 747-400s by 2021. The news previously came to light in September 2018. Earlier this year ,the carrier retired one Boeing 747 which ended up as a museum piece at the Amsterdam Corendon Village Hotel.

KLM Boeing 747-400 Retirement
KLM is due to retire its Boeing 747-400s by 2021. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia

The Boeing 747 is widely known as the queen of the skies, and KLM has some of the most interesting still in operation. Indeed, KLM operates the combi Boeing 747 which can carry passengers and cargo on its main deck. However, the Boeing 747 is slowly being phased out from global fleets, as the industry turns towards more efficient aircraft with two engines.

KLM Boeing 747 retirements

According to Live And Lets Fly, the carrier is due to retire its Boeing 747 aircraft by the end of 2021. At the time the airline told reporters,

“We anticipate the phase-out of the 747s to finish in 2021, but also this could still change.

According to Airfleets.net, KLM has 13 Boeing 747 aircraft still in service. This includes five combi aircraft. The remaining aircraft have a variety of different ages, with the oldest being delivered to the airline in 1990. The newest aircraft is 14 years younger, having been delivered in 2004. That means that the newest aircraft will be nearly 18 years old if they make it to the end of 2021.

KLM Boeing 747-400 Retirement
KLM’s City of Bangkok was repainted to become a hotel centrepiece. Photo: Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography via Wikimedia

Boeing 747 replacement

It had been reported that KLM would be replacing their Boeing 747 aircraft with Airbus A350-900s. The Air France-KLM group had placed an order for 28 Airbus A350s, which was originally due to be shared between the two carriers. 21 were destined for Air France and seven for KLM.

However, in April Simple Flying reported that all of the group’s A350-900s on order would go to Air France. In the place of these aircraft, the Dutch carrier will receive slightly more Boeing 787s, including the Boeing 787-10. KLM is set to commence flights with their first Boeing 787-10 in just under a months time having recently received the first of the type.

As such, it is likely that the remaining Boeing 747s will be replaced by the Boeing 787s yet to join the fleet.

KLM Boeing 747-400 Retirement
KLM is not alone in retiring their Boeing 747-400s. Photo: KLM

KLM is not alone

KLM is not alone in seeking to retire its Boeing 747 aircraft. Indeed, in an age where efficiency is everything, carriers are increasingly turning to two-engined aircraft over gas-guzzling quad jets. British Airways is set to replace all of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft by 2024. These will predominantly be replaced by the Boeing 777X.

Lufthansa is also set to replace the Boeing 747-400 with the Boeing 777X. Yesterday Simple Flying reported the carrier was planning to keep these aircraft longer. This is in case of a delay to the 777X program. Like KLM, Virgin Atlantic will also retire its Boeing 747-400 aircraft by 2021.

What do you think of the widespread retirement of the ‘queen of the skies’? Let us know in the comments!

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Birgit Langenfeld

The modern airplanes like Airbus A 350 are more fuel efficient as well as their electronics more up-to-date and Airbus is safer because of better construction and tighter German safety controls.

Ben Soriano

Interesting article to read. However I am surprised that KLM is not ordering any -8Fs. They may not want the -8i and choose instead the 787-10 but I think that the -8F would be a good fit and nice addition to their freighter fleet . I know Boeing is still making the 747-8F,

Tony Phelan

I understand fully why these aircraft (747s) are being retired but what a shame.They have to be the most graceful and iconic aircraft EVER built.To see one these planes coming in to land or taking off is a sight to behold.Long live the 747s!!!!!!!!!