The Boeing 747 has reached the end of an era. On Sunday, 29 March 2020, both KLM and Qantas ended revenue-generating passenger 747 operations ahead of previous plans. KL686, operated by a combi 747-400, landed at Amsterdam from Mexico City at 1532 local time.
On the other side of the world, QF28 touched down into Sydney at 1730 local after a 13-hour 18-minute sector from Santiago, Chile. Funnily enough, KLM and Qantas both introduced their first 747s, in the shape of -200s, in the same year: 1971. Now both ended on the same day, with the end quickened by the coronavirus. The 747 will forever be known as the Queen of the Skies.
747s had 28.4 million seats in 2019
In 2019, all operators of the 747 – including KLM and Qantas – filed 28.4 million seats. This was down from 102 million in 2010 and 52.8 million in 2015. Of these 28.4 million, 76% were by -400s, 19% by -8s, and the rest by combis. Lufthansa is the leading operator with 6.3 million seats as a result of its -8s, followed closely by BA with 5.5 million.
Thai Airways, meanwhile, was in a distant third (2.6 million), followed by Korean Air (1.9 million) and KLM (1.8 million). KLM and Qantas ‘only’ had 2.9 million 747 seats last year, or 11.4% of total capacity by this equipment. In the past decade, 2018 was the height of KLM and Qantas’ 747 share, with 13.7%.
Amsterdam – Curaçao top for KLM; Sydney – Tokyo HND for Qantas
Last year, KLM and Qantas operated their 747s in multiple markets, with the top shown below. Despite Qantas having a very small network, it’s noteworthy how it used them to Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. Amsterdam – Curaçao, in the Dutch Caribbean and one part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was KLM’s number-one and was served daily by the 747. The Curaçao Tourist Board shows that the island had over 194,000 Dutch tourists last year, up 10% year-on-year.