The Boeing 747’s first flight was on February 9th, 1969, making it 45 years old today. The revolutionary aircraft had transformed commercial air transport with its jumbo size, as no other aircraft coming close to its capacity during that time. It played a major role in mass air travel and was expected to operate for many decades. But with changes in technology, travel behavior, and demand for more flights in smaller planes, airlines are bidding farewell to the 747 era.
The 747 features four engines, which requires a lot of jet fuel. With airlines now trying to cut hefty fuel costs, smaller and more fuel efficient two-engine aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner have become more preferable. Airlines also believe flying less people on a more frequent schedule will increase profitability.
Although Boeing is still building new 747s, sales have been low. Many airlines such as Qantas, Lufthansa, and Air France has either postponed or canceled their orders for the plane. Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines stopped operating 747s. Air India, Air New Zealand, and EVA Air are also planning to eliminate 747s from their fleets.
All Nippon Airways Co., which includes ANA and Japan Airlines, has decided to retire its last two passenger-carrying 747s by the end of March. To honor the aircraft, ANA is offering a five-day ‘Farewell Boeing 747 American Tour’ for fans to spend time with the last jumbo jet at Tulepo Regional Airport in Mississippi. There, it’ll be scrapped.
The tour is sure to be a bitter-sweet farewell for the much loved 747.
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