End Of An Era: Qantas To Retire Boeing 747s For Good

It is the end of the road for Qantas’ Boeing 747. The Queen of the Skies has been with the flag carrier of Australia since 1971. However, with much of the airline’s fleet remaining on the ground due to strict travel restrictions, it has decided that it is time to retire the icon.

Qantas 747
The Qantas 747 is officially heading for early retirement. Photo: Getty Images

It was on the cards

At the beginning of the year, Qantas still operated six 747-400s. All of the jumbos were eventually going to be retired before 2021 rolled around.

It was suspected that flight QF28 from Santiago to Sydney performed by registration VH-OEE on March 29th would be the last flight. However, a Qantas spokesperson informed Simple Flying at the time that there was potential for the plane to be used for government rescue flights. Additionally, there was no ruling out that they could be used for passenger services once the downtime ends.

Unfortunately, this downturn doesn’t look to be over any time soon for the operator as the Australia government is not in any rush to open up the country’s borders for tourism. Therefore, Qantas has to undergo a massive reshuffle with its fleet.

According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, there will be at least 220 pilots losing their jobs due to the jet’s retirement. Additionally, there will be job losses for at least 1,050 cabin crew members and at least 630 engineers.

The 747 is not the only four-engine aircraft rocked by the restrictions. As part of Qantas’ COVID-19 recovery plan, the Airbus A380 will not fly for the carrier until at least 2023. The superjumbos will be heading to the Mojave desert in California for a sabbatical.

747 and A380
There is not much use for the two powerhouses in the current climate. Photo: Getty Images

Rich history

The 747 has been a faithful partner to Qantas for nearly half a century. The firm’s inaugural 747-238B helped put Australia on the global commercial aviation spectrum. The lack of suitable long-haul aircraft often meant that the distant country was left out of the picture when it came to worldwide services.

However, the jumbo did wonders for Australia-based airlines and helped shape new industries in the nation. Over the decades, it helped transform the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong into key connecting hubs.

747 Qantas Getty
Former Qantas director of flight operations Alan Terrell, standing proud in front of the jumbo in 1983. Photo: Getty Images

More Australian residents could also start to regularly go on vacations across Europe and the United States thanks to the lowered ticket prices that the plane brought. The aircraft was so popular that by the end of the 1970s, Qantas was only operating 747s.

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The time has come

Nonetheless, all good things eventually come to an end, and the Qantas 747 is now going into retirement, a year shy of its 50th birthday. The jet has been a casualty in fleets across the globe this year.

IATA, Social Distancing, Face Masks
It will be a rare sight to see a 747 this decade. Photo: Getty Images

Several operators were already planning to let go of the legend in favor of more cost-effective options. However, the coronavirus pandemic has catalyzed the process. Regardless, Qantas’ 747s will leave a legacy for generations to come as it opened several doors for the Australian aviation industry.

Simple Flying reached out to Qantas for comment on the withdrawal of its 747 jets. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that the retirement is happening early. So, the aircraft will not operate further regular Qantas passenger services.

What are your thoughts about the retirement of Qantas’ Boeing 747 aircraft? Are you sad to see it go? Let us know what you think in the comment section.