What Happened To Singapore Airlines Boeing 747’s?

Before the days of the A380, A350, 787, and 777X, one of the most well-known of passenger aircraft included the Boeing 747. In fact, the iconic “Queen of the Skies” flew in Singapore Airlines livery for quite some time. Although Singapore Airlines does not fly any passenger 747s anymore, they do have some freighter 747s still flying.

Singapore Airlines used to fly a robust fleet of Boeing 747s. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Singapore Airlines and the Boeing 747

As per Airfleets, Singapore Airlines has flown a total of 116 Boeing 747 aircraft. These included the -200, -300, and -400 variants. Out of all these models, Singapore Airlines flew over 50 Boeing 747-400s. However, Singapore Airlines retired them before the end of their lifespan. In fact, some of the Boeing 747-400s flew for fewer than twenty years with Singapore Airlines.

Boeing 747-300 Singapore
Singapore Airlines flew Boeing 747-300s before modernizing to the 747-400s. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The Boeing 747-400s found several new homes, with a number of different airlines taking over Singapore’s 747s. These include the following:

  • Air Pacific (now known as Fiji Airways)
  • Ansett Australia
  • Iberia
  • Lion Air
  • Air India
  • Cathay Pacific

Many of the 747s found a new life in the cargo world. With a strong freighter conversion program, old 747s can fly for many more years for cargo operators. A number of airlines took advantage of this program and still fly those aircraft to this day.

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One Boeing 747-400 was really special for Singapore Airlines since it was the 1000th 747 produced. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The last Boeing 747 flight for Singapore Airlines

On April 6th, 2012, Singapore Airlines operated its last Boeing 747 flight. Aircraft 9V-SPQ flew SQ747 from Singapore to Hong Kong and SQ748 from Hong Kong to Singapore. Reflecting on the history of the 747 for Singapore Airlines, Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr. Mak Swee Wah, had the following to say:

The 747 was truly the jewel in our fleet for nearly four decades, and we would not be the airline that we are today if we had not made the bold decision in 1972 to purchase this iconic jetliner

Singapore still flies the 747!

You read that correctly. Singapore Airlines still flies the 747. However, these 747s do not fly passengers anymore. Instead, they serve as dedicated cargo aircraft for Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines still flies Boeing 747-400F aircraft. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

Cargo aircraft can serve for much longer than passenger aircraft. For one, airlines do not have to worry about expensive cabin retrofits such as new inflight entertainment systems or new business class products.

Replacements

When the 747-400s went out of Singapore Airlines’ fleet, the carrier needed replacements. One of the Boeing 747 replacements was the behemoth Airbus A380.

Singapore Airlines flies 19 A380 aircraft currently. Photo: Singapore Airlines

And, representing the broader trend of airlines moving away from four-engine aircraft to twinjets, Singapore Airlines also inducted the 777 into its fleet. This includes the 777-200 and 777-300 variants.

The 777-300 was one of the replacement aircraft for the 747s. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Overall

The age of the 747 at Singapore Airlines is over. Although, several other airlines are still flying the 747s and will for years to come, Singapore Airlines had a great run with the 747. However, now, their future looks much more like twinjets.

Do you have memories on a Singapore Airlines 747? Let us know in the comments!

6 comments
  1. I flew Singapore from LAX to NRT (Tokyo) in 2008. I was using airline miles and enjoyed my flight on the upper deck in Business Class. It was easily one of the most pleasant flights I’ve ever experienced. Singapore’s Business Class service outshined First Class on many competitors. The flight attendants went out of their way to be of service throughout the entire flight, happy to prepare a special meal for you if there was not a choice to your liking on the menu. When someone used the restroom, an attendant went in afterward and freshened it every time. Want a snack or some hot noodles at 4 AM? Not a problem, the purser was happy to oblige. In every respect the service was superlative and being in the upper deck of the 747-400 made one feel like they were flying in their own private jet. I look forward to flying with them again, though unfortunately it will not be on the venerable 747.

  2. I really enjoyed seeing the Megatops of Singapore Airlines visiting OR Tambo International airport in South Africa……also had the privilege of flying on both SAA ZS-SAJ and ZS-SAC, ex SIA Boeing 747-312 “Big Tops”

  3. We started flying the Singapore Airlines 747s when they were sold to Air Pacific (later renamed Fiji Airways) in 1998. They were beautiful planes and since we moved to Fiji, we flew them back and forth to LAX several times a year! Always tried to get a seat upstairs as they used that as overflow from Coach. Front of the plane was also very nice when we had enough mileage to upgrade! Loved those planes and even the pilots hated to give them up when Fiji Airways moved on to A330 planes a few years ago. Miss the old 747s but see them once in awhile at LAX as cargo planes.

  4. I flew the Singapore Airlines 747 several time as a university student in the US. I believe the flight was SQ1 and SQ2 flying to and from LAX and San Francisco…..I remember refueling stops in Taipei and Tokyo. It was always a wonderful flight, professional staff, beautiful and smiling stewardesses and back then, a smoking section at the back of economy!

  5. My first flying experience ever was on a Singapore 747 from Bangkok to London in 1978 I love 747’s as they are big, comfortable and have the best safety records .I will them terribly.

  6. I flew on a chartered SIA B747-200 flight after an overseas military training in 1986. With permission from the flight attendant, I visited the upper deck which was unoccupied then. I remember climbing up the narrow steps on the spiral staircase. Whilst narrow, it added an air of exclusivity and privacy to passengers on the upper deck. The spiral staircase would be the most iconic feature amongst the 747 family.

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