KLM Prepares Another Boeing 747 For Retirement

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is getting ready to retire another Boeing 747. PH-BFU, also known as “the City of Beijing, will perform its final flight for the airline on April 16th.

KLM Boeing 747 PH-BFU
PH-BFU has traveled the world for almost 22 years. Photo: Wikimedia.

KLM took delivery of the aircraft, Serial Number 28196, in September of 1997. PH-BFU was originally scheduled for retirement late last year. Nonetheless, it remained in service after receiving a heavy maintenance check in Jakarta last fall. Soon it will be time for its retirement though. At this point, the aircraft is still busy transporting passengers around the world. Within the last seven days it has visited Seoul, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nairobi.

KLM’s Boeing 747 Fleet

After the retirement of PH-BFU, KLM’s Boeing 747 fleet will shrink to 13 aircraft. The airline has announced plans to retire all of its Boeing 747s by 2021. Originally, the airline had planned to replace the Boeing 747s with Airbus A350-900s. However, the airline delayed the delivery of the A350-900s from 2020 to 2021. According to Airlinerwatch, KLM “may exclude the Airbus A350 from its fleet plan” altogether. There is a chance that the Dutch flag carrier will use Boeing 787s to replace the Boeing 747s instead.

Last year, KLM retired the oldest operating 747. The “City of Bangkok”, PH-BFB, flew over 134,000 flight hours for KLM. Furthermore, it carried close to six million passengers during its almost 30-year service period.

KLM Boeing 747 PH-BFB
Boeing delivered PH-BFB to KLM in 1989. Photo: Wikimedia.

A remote-controlled trailer transported PH-BFB to the Corendon Village Hotel outside Amsterdam Schiphol in February. It will be converted into an exhibit educating visitors about the history of the Boeing 747. The former KLM aircraft is hard to recognize nowadays as its colors have been changed to a Corendon livery. The exhibit is scheduled to open to the public in the third quarter of this year.

How do you feel about airlines retiring their Boeing 747 aircraft?