2020 has led to quite a paradigm shift in aviation industry. Business models have drastically changed. Airlines, manufacturers and players in their supply chain are forced to take severe actions – fleet retirements, shrinking of workforce, shifting of bases, among others. In the last three months, many airlines have bid adieu to the old and inept aircraft, to increase the efficiency of their fleet. Lufthansa retired their A340s, KLM retired their Boeing 747-400s, and now, Qantas is all set to finally put their last two 747s to rest! Qantas had expressed their plans to retire the jumbo jet way back, in March 2020.
The last of the two 747-400s of Qantas were in storage since March – both of which are in parked at Sydney Airport – thanks to the international travel restrictions. These jumbos – registered as VH-OEE and VH-OEJ respectively – are 18 and 17 years old respectively. On June 16, 2020 (Tuesday), the VH-OEE operated its first flight in two months between Sydney (SYD) and Los Angeles (LAX). It is then scheduled to operate one last flight to Victorville (VCV), where it shall join the already-retired fleet of Qantas 747s. The VH-OEJ shall be retired by the end of this month.
The 747s in Qantas’ fleet will be replaced by the fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The airline was in talks with General Electric (GE) for some months selling at least one Boeing 747-400 that shall be retired by Qantas so that the GE can use it as a test-bed for jet engines; a similar kind of deal was previously signed with Rolls-Royce too. Usually, giving these aircraft another life benefits everyone – Qantas gets a fair deal, GE gets an aircraft at much lower cost than a brand new one, and Boeing continues to get the maintenance contracts. However, thanks to the pandemic, the industry is focused on simply staying afloat than being profitable, forcing the carrier to scrap these aircraft altogether.
For the Queen of the skies, this is quite an inglorious sendoff! Qantas operated the 747s for more than two decades, and now, as we head into 2021, the only quad-engine aircraft with Qantas shall be the Airbus A380, which certainly won’t see the longevity like the 747s.
As for us, we sure will miss the Qantas 747s! Have you ever travelled on one of these magnificent aircraft? Let us know in the comments!