It is the end of the road for Qantas’ Boeing 747. The Queen of the Skies has been with the flag carrier of Australia since 1971. However, with much of the airline’s fleet remaining on the ground due to strict travel restrictions, it has decided that it is time to retire the icon.
It was on the cards
At the beginning of the year, Qantas still operated six 747-400s. All of the jumbos were eventually going to be retired before 2021 rolled around.
It was suspected that flight QF28 from Santiago to Sydney performed by registration VH-OEE on March 29th would be the last flight. However, a Qantas spokesperson informed Simple Flying at the time that there was potential for the plane to be used for government rescue flights. Additionally, there was no ruling out that they could be used for passenger services once the downtime ends.
According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, there will be at least 220 pilots losing their jobs due to the jet’s retirement. Additionally, there will be job losses for at least 1,050 cabin crew members and at least 630 engineers.
The 747 is not the only four-engine aircraft rocked by the restrictions. As part of Qantas’ COVID-19 recovery plan, the Airbus A380 will not fly for the carrier until at least 2023. The superjumbos will be heading to the Mojave desert in California for a sabbatical.
The 747 has been a faithful partner to Qantas for nearly half a century. The firm’s inaugural 747-238B helped put Australia on the global commercial aviation spectrum. The lack of suitable long-haul aircraft often meant that the distant country was left out of the picture when it came to worldwide services.
However, the jumbo did wonders for Australia-based airlines and helped shape new industries in the nation. Over the decades, it helped transform the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong into key connecting hubs.
More Australian residents could also start to regularly go on vacations across Europe and the United States thanks to the lowered ticket prices that the plane brought. The aircraft was so popular that by the end of the 1970s, Qantas was only operating 747s.
The time has come
Nonetheless, all good things eventually come to an end, and the Qantas 747 is now going into retirement, a year shy of its 50th birthday. The jet has been a casualty in fleets across the globe this year.
Several operators were already planning to let go of the legend in favor of more cost-effective options. However, the coronavirus pandemic has catalyzed the process. Regardless, Qantas’ 747s will leave a legacy for generations to come as it opened several doors for the Australian aviation industry.
Simple Flying reached out to Qantas for comment on the withdrawal of its 747 jets. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that the retirement is happening early. So, the aircraft will not operate further regular Qantas passenger services.