End of the line for the Qantas Boeing 747?

It could be a case of "Boeing, Boeing, gone" as Qantas grounds the 'Queen of the Skies' as part of its international shut-down.

By David Flynn, March 30 2020
End of the line for the Qantas Boeing 747?

What could be the last flight of a Qantas Boeing 747 took place on Sunday afternoon, as the jumbo jet returned from Santiago ahead of Qantas suspending all international flights until at least the end of May.

That this was also the last scheduled Qantas international flight was coincidence, but far from a happy one.

Qantas says hasn't officially retired the Boeing 747, and suggests it could even take on some government-backed 'rescue' flights to repatriate Australians stranded overseas – but the longer its international flights are grounded, and the deeper the post-COVID19 slump, the less likely the Queen of the Skies will return to the skies.

When the airline eventually emerges from this coronavirus-induced coma it will favour aircraft which carry fewer passengers and consume less fuel than the gas-guzzling four-engined jumbo, such as the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A330.

One of the most fondly-remembered liveries of the Qantas Boeing 747.
One of the most fondly-remembered liveries of the Qantas Boeing 747.

If this is the end of the line for the red-tailed "Queen of the Skies", then its final journey was made with little fanfare, apart from a scenic fly-over which saw the jumbo track along Sydney Harbour.

The flight path of Sunday's QF28, and what might be the airline's last scheduled Boeing 747 jaunt.
The flight path of Sunday's QF28, and what might be the airline's last scheduled Boeing 747 jaunt.

Ironically, it's an approach which other Qantas Boeing 747s have flown to celebrate various milestones, such as the arrival of a Boeing 747-400 which flew non-stop from London to Sydney in July 1989.

Qantas slimmed down its jumbo fleet in recent years, with just five 747s remaining on routes such as Sydney to Tokyo, JohannesburgSantiago and, until recently, San Francisco.

The upper deck of the first Qantas Boeing 747s were fitted out with the colourful Captain Cook lounge.
The upper deck of the first Qantas Boeing 747s were fitted out with the colourful Captain Cook lounge.

The airline previously planned to put all five 747s out to pasture by the end of 2020, as a second tranche of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners arrived in the hangars.

For Qantas, the departure of the Boeing 747 would represent the end of one era and the dawn of another, with the ultra-long range Project Sunrise Airbus A350-1000s putting an end to the stop-over by opening up direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to the likes of London, Paris and New York.

Let's hope the last Qantas Boeing 747 gets the chance for a proper send-off.
Let's hope the last Qantas Boeing 747 gets the chance for a proper send-off.

As with other airlines which have recently retired their Boeing 747s – Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines – big things were planned for the former flagship's finale, but as with Qantas' own centenary celebrations, the coronavirus quickly put that on hold, and may now have hastened the jumbo's demise.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Seeing QF will be finished with 747. Got me thinking of one of the rarest things in flying. Sitting up front upon take-off with all the noise until the nose wheel retracted and it was then extremely quiet with only the sound of rushing air.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 112

Very glad to hear this, and makes the bloggers who were claiming the QF747s had been retired look a bit stupid. I hope QF can give this old lady the farewell she deserves. I would like to see a few domestic 747 legs like SYD-PER and maybe SYD-MEL, SYD-BNE. It would be an amazing atmosphere! Fly them from the international terminal and Qantas First Lounge access will be a bonus!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2014

Total posts 45

Even if they don't officially re-join the fleet, I wouldn't be surprised if Qantas do a domestic farewell tour like they did with the 767

06 Dec 2018

Total posts 10

And I will do my very best to be on that flight! I have been hoping for a farewell tour. I was on the Singapore Airlines B747 retirement flight SIN-HKG-SIN and it was one of the best moments of my life!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 96

I agree it would be nice, however I suspect that when this current carnage starts to improve for Qantas, the very last thing on their minds will be flying 20+ year old aircraft round on an expensive farewell tour.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

FYI the 5 they have left are all ER's which are under 20 years old. Oldest was delivered December 2002 which makes it 17 years 4 months old and the newest 8 months younger.

That aside seeing as this Qantas's 100th year and seeing how important the type was to the airline I would almost guarantee there will be a proper send off

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 May 2020

Total posts 17

Tell SQ that a 17 year old long haul passenger aircraft is "relatively young" ( :

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

SQ have some 777-300's that are still flying or parked because of COVID19 that are older than the QF 747-400ER's.

And when I was talking relatively it was in relation to other 747 operators. Thai and BA have some really ancient 747's the Qantas ones being the youngest passenger 400's

So not quite sure your point.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 326

The Qantas B747 in all its iterations from 742, 743, 744 is beyond iconic. The history, the memories, the contribution to the fabric of Australia since the 1970's make its departure absolutely the end of an era. It's hard to imagine aviation without the 747 being part of it other than in our memories.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 807

There is a rumour that QF has found a single buyer for the 5 remaining 747-400ERs. In these times, finding a buyer is quite an achievement so, if true, I presume the planes will leave the fleet at a time that suits the purchaser and QF will gratefully bank the cheque.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 144

Some bloggers/twitterati have been posting about a sale of all 5 to GE last week.

Given that Qantas closed a large secured financing last week and GECAS is a major financier, I'd think it's much more likely that the aircraft have been refinanced on a sale and leaseback basis or transferred as part of the security arrangements, rather than a spontaneous sale on a whim.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

I think you are on the money, though I doubt the 5 “sold” would be the 747's. Most likely other types like the 789's which looking at the casa register all appear to be Qantas owned.

30 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

This is so sad, the beautiful Queen of the Skies is being retired too early. The present world pandemic has turned everything upside down. I was booked on the gorgeous lady for 8 Oct from Jo'burg. I am devastated. She is my favourite. What will happen now? Perhaps there will be a reprieve when things get back on track.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

A QF pilot suggested that A330s would be first back in the air for QF int. I guess that will be dependent on where the first destinations are. Perhaps NZ is expected to be first.

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 22

If the 747s are indeed all gone by time international get back to normal, perhaps the planned seasonal Perth Johannesburg flights using A330s may eventuate to replace Sydney Johannesburg.

787s had taken over San Fransisco, and were scheduled to start to Santiago.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1243

This entire article is predicated on conjecture. Qantas hasn't issued any statements on the fate of the B747 so I wouldn't draw any conclusions on last flights and whatnot just yet.

Would be interesting to see who buys Qantas's 747's, would it be another airline

David, I am so glad I had a proper final sendoff experience on a 747. I flew the QF flight from Haneda in Business in the solo seat, 5J. Two days later I visited the HARS Museum and walked on the wing of the 747 stored there. Very glad this beautiful plane will always be there to be enjoyed by all.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 171

Ahhh, let's keep it chirpy. Is there anyone out there on 'ET' who flew on the original 747's with the Captain Cook Lounge, as pictured. That would be a tale!.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2431

I have the very faintest memory that I might have toured a Qantas 747 with this lurid upstairs lounge. I never flew on one, but back in the 1970s access was less of an issue. I have a feeling that I might have been on a hangar tour, as my Dad used to be in the RAAF and knew some people. But those were very young years for me so I can't be 100% sure, and Dad doesn't have the best of memories these days. I would love it if the touring Qantas Centenary exhibition included a mock-up of the Captain Cook lounge and you could plonk yourself down on the settee for a photo!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 May 2019

Total posts 4

I've heard they were in fact sold all together to 'a government entity' on an immediate/near term delivery basis... which would imply they're gone and not coming back for a farewell tour. Lovely as it would be, I really doubt QF would have the budget for something like that even in 6-12m time... so a quick sale and no farewell does make sense for the balance sheet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 134

One 747 (VH-OEG) left the fleet yesterday and flew from Sydney to Los Angeles. Overall 747 fleet is now down to 4.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 May 2020

Total posts 17

I think I made this Comment on a similar article on AirlineRatings.com about a week ago but I feel like repeating it here ( : Ain't it kinda sad that in early 2020 QANTAS were still flying scheduled passenger flights using 747's? Even Philippine Airlines and AirNZ retired theirs way back in 2014 !

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 581

Don't know what is sad about it when the 747's Qantas we're flying in early 2020 we're relatively young dating from late 2002/ early 2003. That's quite young to be retired especially for a long haul low cycle plane.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 May 2020

Total posts 17

There's always one .....

Sword fight anyone? ( :


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on End of the line for the Qantas Boeing 747?