Could Qantas Be Retiring Its Boeing 747 Fleet Early?

**Update: 03/29/20 @ 23:45 UTC –  A Qantas spokesperson shared that there may still be life for its remaining 747s after today’s trip; details below**

It may be the end of an era at Qantas following what could be the retirement of its last Boeing 747 aircraft. The Queen of the Skies has been with the flag carrier of Australia since 1971. However, with much of its fleet temporarily grounded, Qantas may be taking the opportunity to retire the iconic jet earlier than planned.

Qantas 747
After nearly 50 years of service, the 747 may have performed its last passenger flight for Qantas. Photo: Getty Images

Retirement can’t wait

At the beginning of the year, Qantas still operated six 747-400s. It retired one of its 747-400ERs last month. That aircraft conducted its last commercial passenger flight on February 9th from Sydney to Los Angeles. The rest of the jumbos were eventually all going to be retired at the end of this year.

Today, registration VH-OEE conducted flight QF28 from Santiago to Sydney. The plane left the Chilean capital at 14:13 and eventually passed over the Sydney Harbour at 2,100 feet. Thereafter, it landed at its final destination of Sydney Airport at 17:30 local time.

According to, this jet, nicknamed Nullarbor (after a plain in southern Australia) joined Qantas in December 2002, giving it a service time of 17 years. The airline also operated the -100, -200, -300 and -400 variants of the 747 over the decades. It also operated the SP, meaning the only 747 it did not operate was the 747-8.

There will no doubt be some emotions flying around at Qantas after the 747’s retirement. Photo: Getty Images.

Historical presence

The operator’s debut 747-238B helped put Australia on the global commercial aviation spectrum. The distant land was often left out of the picture.

This was due to aircraft manufacturers still finding ways to effectively transport passengers across the world from down under. Therefore, the introduction of the 747 did wonders for Australia-based airlines and helped shape new economies in the country.

For half a century, the 747 performed trips between Australia and the rest of the world. Flights to Asia became more frequent, helping to transform the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong into key connecting hubs. The general Australian could also now regularly go on vacations across Europe and the United States thanks to the lowered ticket prices that the jumbo brought.

Qantas 747 1977
A Qantas 747-200 flying in July 1977. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia Commons

Chapter coming to a close 

In February, Qantas served its last scheduled 747 domestic flight and now the airline has fully stopped passenger services with the aircraft. Initially, Sam Chui reported that the remaining 747s in Qantas’ fleet were sold to an unknown buyer on Friday morning.

However, Qantas has now informed Simple Flying there is still potential for the 747s to be used for government rescue flights. Additionally, there is no ruling out that the jets could be used for passenger services once the downtime is over. Of course, this depends on how the situation plays out in the coming months.

This year isn’t the end of the road for only Qantas’ 747 aircraft as several airlines are saying goodbye to the industry veteran. Moreover, today, KLM stopped Operations with its 747 fleet early.

Even though 747 retirements are becoming more and more frequent, the jumbo has already left a legacy that won’t be forgotten. There are no doubt millions of memories made thanks to the service that this jet has given over the last half a century.

Do you have any fond memories of the Qantas 747? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.