Lion Air Retires Final Boeing 747 To Be Replaced By Airbus A330neos

Lion Air is about to retire its last 747-400 and replace it with an Airbus A330neo. The 30-year old Boeing 747-400 flew its last commercial operation in May 2018. Since then, the aircraft has only been used for special occasions and infrequent aircraft replacement.

Lion Air
Lion Air has decided to retire the 747-400. Source: Wikimedia

What are the details?

Lion Air has decided to close a chapter in its history and retire a long-serving Boeing 747 aircraft, tail number PK-LHG.

The 747 was first built in 1989 and flew for Singapore Airlines. In 2004, it was sold to Air Atlantic Icelandic, an aircraft leasing firm who leased the plane to Iberia. It was renovated and flew for two years, before being leased to Oasis Hong Kong Airlines.

Another two years later, it was stored at the infamous Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport. It was finally returned to Boeing and flown back to the United States. Then in 2009, two decades after its first commercial flight, it was sold to Lion Air.

A Boeing 747 in Singapore livery. Source: Wikimedia

For the next 20 years, it flew Lion Air routes across South East Asia from hub airport Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta. They also made use of the 747s range by flying pilgrims to Mecca in the Middle East. For the last 10 years of its service it remained in Indonesia.

It had a partner aircraft, another 747 (tail number PK-LHF) that was retired and scrapped in 2016. It had a very similar history (also originally being delivered to Singapore) but also had stints flying for Air China.

“The airline was proud to operate the plane dubbed ‘Queen of the Skies’ for the last 10 years to serve domestic commercial flights,”  said a Lion Air spokesman.

What will the planes be replaced with?

The two Lion Air Boeing 747 aircraft are to be replaced by brand new Airbus A330neos, according to the airline. Lion Air has orders for 10 of these aircraft (two to be delivered in May this year) and options on another four.

This news comes at a difficult time for the airline, which suffered an horrific crash late last year. Their brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed after takeoff, killing everyone onboard. The fact that they are going ahead with retiring their large capacity aircraft when they already have reduced service (the remainder of the 737 Max aircraft are grounded) shows that they are very keen to move forward.

“Lion Air is happy with the addition of the Airbus 330-900NEO to its fleet as it is in line with the long-range aviation business development. The plane is known for its fuel efficiency and long range,”

TAP Portugal A330neo
TAP Portugal was the first airline to take delivery of the A330neo. Photo: Airbus.

The retiring 747 is likely to be broken down for spare parts for newer Boeing 747-800 aircraft.

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