The Boeing 747 has been a popular intercontinental aircraft since its first commercial passenger flight in 1970, but now the iconic jumbo jet’s days may be numbered.
Boeing said it plans to cut back production of the four-engine 747 from 12 a year to just six starting in September, not only because airlines continue to prefer more fuel-efficient twin-engine planes like the 777 and 787 for their long-haul needs, but also because a slowdown in global cargo demand has hurt orders for 747 freighters. The same trend has restricted orders for Airbus’ rival jumbo, the A380.
Major global airlines have been phasing the 747 out of their fleets for several years, with more to come. Just this month, Air France celebrated the final flight of its last 747 after flying the plane as the mainstay of its intercontinental fleet for almost 46 years.
According to Airways News, other airlines that retired all their 747s in recent years include Air New Zealand, Air Canada, All Nippon, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Delta and United are phasing out their remaining jumbos as well.
But 747s will continue to be seen at airports worldwide as some carriers still find them useful for their needs. Lufthansa recently started flying the newest version of the aircraft — the 747-8 — on some U.S. routes; Korean Airlines last year started flying its first new 747-8 and has several more on order; and British Airways last summer started to refit the interiors of a number of its 747s to keep them going for the immediate future.
Readers: Where does the 747 rank on your list of preferred international aircraft? Will you be sorry to see them go?
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