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.
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.
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, Johannesburg, Santiago and, until recently, San Francisco.
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.
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.