Kuwait Airways Retires Final Boeing 747: End Of An Era

Kuwait Airways has decided to retire its last and only Boeing 747-400.

Kuwait Airways
Kuwait Airways Boeing 747 takes off. Photo: Wikimedia

This is the end of the era for a rather special Boeing 747, one that not only flies the head of state of Kuwait, but moonlights as a normal aircraft on commercial routes when not in diplomatic use!

What is this Aircraft’s history?

The Boeing 747, tail number 9K-ADE, was bought originally from Boeing and has always served (since 1994) as the flagship aircraft of the Emir of Kuwait.

The aircraft’s upper deck is fitted out in all the decor that you would expect from an oil-rich country, but the bigger bottom level is entirely kitted out for normal passengers. During a normal commercial flight, the upper deck is completely sealed off with no access.

From the video below, you can see that they completely cover the chairs, floors, and tables with plastic to ensure that no one touches anything before the Emir of Kuwait arrives.

Kuwait Airways
Kuwait Airways 747. Photo: Wikimedia

Down below there are 32 seats in first class and 24 in business class. There are no lie-flat seats in business class and the decor and experience is unchanged from when the aircraft was delivered back in 1994.

In economy, things get a little more interesting. There are 244 seats in the cabin, sharing the middle of the plane with a flying hospital. Flight reviews are rare, but aviation commentator Sam Chui managed to get a seat before its retirement.

Its last flight was from Doha back to its home in Kuwait.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, as of March 31, 2019, “the 25-year-old, General Electric CF6-80C2B1F-powered quad jet had amassed 15,173 flight hours via 6,232 cycles.”

The aircraft will now be flown from Kuwait to the Netherlands, where it will be scrapped by a company called AELS – Aircraft End-Of-Life Solutions.

What will it be replaced with?

Kuwait Airways, the flag carrier of the nation, will be replacing the aircraft with a Boeing 777-300ER. This will be in a commercial capacity, not in a diplomatic capacity. Apart from the 747, they also have:

  • Ten Airbus A320-200s
  • Five Airbus A330-200s
  • Ten Boeing 777-300s

You can see a review of their Airbus A330-200 here.

They also have 15 Airbus A320neos on order, alongside an order for eight A330neo-800s and five A350-900s. These new orders will essentially double the fleet size for the Middle Eastern carrier, taking it up to 53 planes. The first of all these aircraft is due to be delivered in 2019.

Interestingly, Kuwait Airways is responsible for Airbus continuing the A330neo-800 program with their eight orders. Without this large order, it is possible that Airbus would have scrapped the variant.

Kuwait Airways aircraft
Kuwait Airways has a new livery on their newer aircraft. Photo: Kuwait Airways.

The government of Kuwait also flies several diplomatic aircraft that are branded the same as Kuwait Airways (which is not confusing at all!) including two A340s and we believe another Boeing 747-8. It is this latter aircraft that is the possible diplomatic replacement for this one size fits all Boeing 747-400.

What do you think? Are you sad to see the Kuwait Airways Boeing 747 go? Let us know in the comments!