Qantas has today announced that they will be ordering a further six Boeing 787-9 aircraft, to be delivered in 2019-2020. These new 787 orders are in addition to the four currently on order and will take the size of the 787 fleet to 14.
As part of this, Qantas plans to accelerate the retirement of their remaining 10 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, with all aircraft leaving the fleet by November 2020. VH-OEB, the oldest of the 747s at 25 years old will be retired in July, whilst the ER variants built in 2003 – 2004 will be the last to leave the fleet.
This decision marks the end of an era for Qantas, who has operated the “Queen of the Sky” since 1971. They have operated multiple variants including dozens of individual aircraft and a stint being the worlds only 747 exclusive operator. It will mean that in 2020, for the first time in 49 years that there will be no more 747s in the Qantas fleet.
As most the 747s are based in Sydney, this will see some 787s based in Sydney. Currently no Qantas 787s fly into Sydney on a regular basis as they based in Brisbane and Melbourne. The aircraft will be used on routes to destinations such as Johannesburg, Santiago and San Francisco.
Much of the scheduling is still to be worked out, but here at Transport NSW blog, we don’t believe that all 747s will be replaced by 787s. We are tipping A380s for Hong Kong and A330s for Tokyo as these aircraft are more suited to the shorter higher demand nature of these routes. For these same reasons, we think that Hong Kong and Tokyo will be the last Qantas 747 routes. Of course, this hasn’t been confirmed, but we love to speculate.
What are your opinions on retirement of the Queen of the Sky? Will you be sad to see the 747 go, or welcome the arrival of the high tech modern 787s? Let us know in the comments