Qantas has ended its last remaining Boeing 747 service between the United States and Australia. On December 4, 2019, the Australian airline operated a flight 74 from San Francisco to Sydney ‒ the last with the Queen of the skies, as from now on the aircraft will be replaced by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Following the introduction of the first Boeing 747 all the way back in 1971, superjumbos had had a special place in both Qantas fleet and history. In 1989, for the first time in history, Qantas operated a direct commercial flight between Sydney and London. None other than a Boeing 747-400 aircraft was employed for the task.
A total of 65 aircraft of the type have passed through Qantas’ fleet. Today, only six of them, all 747-400s, are remaining. However, their service days already have an expiration day.
In May 2018, Qantas announced “the end of one era and the start of another” as it revealed an order for six additional Boeing 787-9s to fly on its international network. The Dreamliners were to join the Australian airline’s fleet between late 2019 and mid-to-late 2020, accelerating the retirement of the airline’s last six Boeing 747s.
“The jumbo has been the backbone of Qantas International for more than 40 years and we’ve flown almost every type that Boeing built,” the Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said at the time. “It’s fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020.”
Fitting 236 passenger seats versus 364, Qantas Dreamliners are smaller than the superjumbos. But besides better efficiency, they have a longer range which opens up new route opportunities for the Aussie airline, such as flights between Perth and London.