End of an era: Qantas’ last 747 draws kangaroo in the sky before retirement

Jul 22, 2020

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It’s the end of an era as Qantas has retired its last Boeing 747. Flight QF7474 from Sydney (SYD) departed from Australia for the final time, bound for Los Angeles (LAX) as it heads to retirement.

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According to the airline, the 747 taxied and received a water cannon salute before taking a lap over Sydney. The 747, with the tail number VH-OEJ, departed at 3:28 p.m. and drew a kangaroo over the Australian coast, according to Flightradar24.

Qantas isn’t the only carrier retiring its 747. Airlines including KLM, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are retiring their 747 fleets a few years early as passenger demand has dropped due to the pandemic and airlines attempt to cut costs. Some 747s are even being put to creative new uses as hotels and even scuba-diving attractions.

Just last week, we reported that British Airways, the 747’s largest operator, would retire all 31 of its Boeing 747s.

The Boeing 747 is often called the “Queen of the Skies,” as it transformed air travel and ushered in the jet age. As the original widebody jet, the 747 could fly farther and faster than any commercial passenger aircraft. The most recent version, the 747-8, has a range of 9,300 miles and carries around 400 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.

As more airlines shift to more fuel-efficient jets like Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the Airbus A350 family, the 747s days were limited. That has only been accelerated as a result of the coronavirus. Boeing even announced it would shutter the 747 production line once the last plane on order rolls out of its Everett factory in 2022.

Despite that, you can still find 747-operated flights on several major commercial airlines, but it won’t be long until the last 747-400s are retired, leaving the next generation 747-8i as the last version of the Queen of the Skies still flying.

Only three airlines — Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China — have opted to purchase the 747-8i.

Featured photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images

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