Qantas Flies Its First 747 Farewell Flight

Earlier today, Qantas flew the first out of three special farewell flights for its Boeing 747. Dubbed the “Jumbo Joy Flights”, the last Boeing 747 took a spin around Sydney for an hour. The remaining two flights will take place in Brisbane and Canberra.

Qantas plans farewell flights for 747
Today, the first Jumbo Jet farewell flight occurred for the final Qantas 747. Photo: Getty Images

The aircraft registered as VH-OEJ took off from Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport and carried passengers lucky enough to score tickets.

The tickets had gone on sale on July 8th, with business-class tickets sold at AU$747 (US$521), and economy-class at AU$400 (US$279).

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Flight QF747

The farewell flights are Qantas’ way of giving Australians the chance to say their goodbyes before the 747s are entirely retired. The event was a spectacle, with the local news covering the aircraft’s takeoff.

Qantas 747 Farewell Flight

#LIVE: The last remaining Qantas Boeing 747 is taking off from Sydney Airport for its farewell flight. #9News

Posted by 9 News Sydney on Sunday, 12 July 2020

Flight QF747 ascended at 00:01 UTC, heading over Gosford, Central Coast, and back down towards Royal National Park. Eventually, the plane landed back at Sydney Airport an hour later.

Owen Weaver, fleet Captain of the Qantas 747s, believes that flights across the Australian cities will allow residents to see a 747 in action one last time. He adds,

“There is an enormous amount of nostalgia and affection associated with our 747 and for those who miss out on a seat on the flight, they will at least be able to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as it takes to Australian skies for the last time.”

Two Jumbo Joy flights remain for aircraft VH-OEJ. The next trip will take place on Wednesday, July 15th, around Brisbane. The last farewell flight will occur across Canberra this Friday, July 17th.

Final Qantas Aircraft 747 Boeing VH-OEJ
Aircraft VH-OEJ will complete two more farewell flights this week. Photo: Bidgee via Wikimedia

According to an official statement, Qantas will not be profiting off the farewell flights. Instead, the proceeds will be donated to HARS Aviation Museum at Albion Park in Wollongong and the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach. These museums both have a Qantas 747 on display.

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What will happen to aircraft VH-OEJ?

After completing trips around Canberra and Brisbane, VH-OEJ will fly to Los Angeles for its final flight. Before this, there will be a hangar farewell event for employees to say their goodbyes to the aircraft.

Aircraft boneyard
The Mojave Desert is an ideal location for storing aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

The concluding flight will occur on July 22nd at 04:00 UTC. Undeniably, this day will go down in history for the airline.

After flying to Los Angeles, she will make way to the Mojave Desert in California. There, she joins the rest of the Qantas’ 747 planes. Twelve of the airlines’ A380s are also in hibernation at Mojave. The hot and dry desert is an aircraft graveyard, where the iconic VH-OEJ will possibly be stripped of its parts and fly no longer.

Saying goodbye to the Queen of The Skies

Boeing 747s hold a special place in the heart of the Australian carrier. Joining the fleet in 1971, there have been 65 jumbo jets flown by Qantas since. In a statement, Captain Weaver said,

“The 747 has been a magnificent aircraft, and it’s fitting that we celebrate the end of five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia.”

Simple Flying previously delved spectacularly into a detailed history of these jets.

Qantas started retiring its Boeing 747s in February 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

Initially, the Boeing 747s were to end service by the end of 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately expedited the retirement. Qantas started retiring the 747-400 aircraft as early as February this year. The airline is not alone. Other carriers have stopped operating Boeing 747s for economical reasons. United Airlines and Delta Air are two US airlines that have removed the aircraft from their fleet.

However, before you mourn the end of an era, Simple Flying has listed the airlines that still have a few of these aircraft in operation. Take a gander.

Did you get tickets to fly on one of these special farewell flights? What do Qantas 747s mean to you? Let us know in the comments.