**Update: 14/03/20 @ 06:30 UTC – Additional sources indicate that the aircraft will be retired by the end of this month.**
According to sources reporting from the Netherlands, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be expediting the retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet to take place at the end of March. The original plan as we reported last June, was to have all 747s phased out by 2021.
According to sources in the Netherlands connected to Aeronews, KLM is moving up its 747 retirement schedule in order to save on costs amid plummeting demand. Air Live reports that these jets will be gone by March 26th.
Unfortunately, no other details were provided by sources and it very much remains a rumor. KLM has yet to confirm or deny the story even though we’ve sent an inquiry to their media team.
The KLM 747 fleet
According to Airfleets, KLM has 10 Boeing 747s in its fleet. However, three of these are part of the airline’s cargo operations – which could possibly remain in service. The remaining seven, however, are a combination of ‘regular’/’fully passenger’ 747-400 variants and the 747-400M or “combi” variant. The 747-400 Combi is a rather unique part of the airline’s fleet:
This type of Boeing transports all kinds of cargo: from small packages to large animals, like elephants or horses. We’ve been flying with this type of aircraft since 1989, so that’s about 30 years! It’s our only aircraft that carries both passengers and cargo. -KLM Website
While various airlines have flown this type of combi 747 before, KLM is the only airline still doing so.
Replacing the ‘Queen of the Skies’
Filling the same or similar roles to the Boeing 747s at KLM over the last decade has been the Boeing 777. In fact, the airline has 29 of the twin-engine widebody aircraft in both the -200 and larger -300 variants. The 777-300ER actually carries the same number of passengers as the full-passenger version of KLM’s 747-400, which is 408.
KLM’s latest long-haul aircraft is the Boeing 787-10. With a capacity of 344 passengers, this aircraft comes short of the same capacity as the full-passenger 747. However, it does accommodate more guests than the 268-seats on the 747-400 Combi.
Interestingly, KLM has opted to go for a mostly-Boeing fleet – going from the small 737 up to the larger 777 and 787. The only exception to this is the airline’s fleet of 13 Airbus A330s in both the -200 and -300 variants. In fact, the majority of these A330s received cabin refurbishments in the last two or three years – which means we can expect them to stick around for a while longer.
Airlines all around the world have been phasing out and retiring their 747s. In fact, British Airways and Qantas are among the notable airlines carrying out this process. These quad-jets are far less fuel-efficient and more expensive to maintain than their newer counterparts, giving airlines good reason to retire them.
The 747 has gained an extremely loyal following and we know that many readers will be quite sad to see this aircraft fade away.
Have you flown on a KLM 747 yet? Share some special memories with us in the comments section, if you have any!