Two Years Ago The B747-400 Operated 123 Flights In A Single Day

There are only a handful of passenger B747-400 flights today with Lufthansa and Russian charter carrier Rossiya. But things were very different two years ago when 13 airlines used the quadjet with 123 takeoffs and landings combined. British Airways alone had four in ten flights.

British Airways, Boeing 747, Retirement
British Airways was firmly the main user of the B747-400 two years ago. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

123 passenger B747-400 flights

This article was written on Thursday, November 11th. In 2019, November 11th was a Tuesday. For complete fairness, the most comparable day (the second Thursday of the month) was November 14th.

On this comparable day two years ago, there were 123 scheduled passenger B747-400 flights (takeoff and landings combined), based on analyzing schedules information submitted to OAG. In reality, there were more movements than this, as no data are available for charter operator Rossiya. According to ch-aviation.com, Rossiya now has nine B747-400s, most active but some stored.

Lufthansa B747-400
Lufthansa reintroduced the B747-400 in October. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto via Flickr.

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Just a handful of flights today

The difference between then and now is utterly stark. The B747-400 has just five scheduled movements today (excluding Rossiya), all by Lufthansa. They are from Frankfurt to Dubai and New York JFK (both two ways), together with a departure from Frankfurt to Seoul Incheon that will leave at 17:35 and return the following day. Lufthansa reintroduced its B747-400s in October.

Air China had also scheduled a round trip between Beijing Capital and Shenzhen today. CA1341 was due to leave Beijing at 12:00 and arrive in the southern city at 15:30. Returning, CA1342 was to depart at 16:55 and return at 20:15. While the flights did operate, the B747-400 was substituted by the A330-200. The quadjet last operated on November 9th, Radarbox.com shows.

LH400 FRA-JFK
When writing, LH400 has just passed Manchester bound to JFK. It is operated by D-ABVX, a B747-400 delivered in 1999. Image: Radarbox.com.

Rossiya: the main user of passenger B747-400s

Rossiya is now the world’s largest user of passenger B747-400s. When writing, EI-XLF is en route from Moscow Sheremetyevo to Hurghada, while EI-XLH is flying from Novosibirsk to Hurghada. Earlier in the day, EI-XLC flew St Petersburg-Hurghada. Even including these and any flights later today, there are only a handful of B747-400 movements today.

Rossiya B747-400
This aircraft, EI-XLD, hasn’t flown since November 5th. Photo: Papas Dos via Flickr.

13 passenger B747-400 operators in 2019

The pandemic sped up the retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft at airlines across the world. Not surprisingly, the ‘queen of the sky’ was especially badly impacted. On the comparable day in 2019, 13 passenger airlines used the variant, OAG indicates; twelve on a scheduled basis plus Rossiya.

  • British Airways: 50 takeoff/landings that day
  • Lufthansa: 18
  • KLM: 12
  • Thai Airways: 9
  • China Airlines: 8
  • Virgin Atlantic: 8
  • Qantas: 6
  • Saudi Arabian: 4
  • Air India: 2
  • Air China: 2
  • Asiana: 2
  • Corsair: 2
  • Rossiya: unknown
B747-400 routes November 14th, 2019
The routes operated on the comparable day in 2019 included Air India from Kochi to Jedda, arriving at 21:15. It then departed at 23:15 to Hyderabad. The following day (so not included here), it continued to Mumbai. Image: GCMap.

British Airways had 40% of flights

With four in ten movements, it was very much about British Airways. BA’s quadjets, which took off from Heathrow for the last time 13 months ago, were used on 16 routes from Heathrow that day.

Accra, Boston, Cape Town, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Dubai, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver saw the iconic aircraft. All had one round-trip except JFK (six), Miami (three), Los Angeles (two), and Cape Town (two).

What are your best memories or experiences of the B747-400? Share them in the comments.

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