With any retirement party, you want to send the retiree out with a bang. The same is true for airplanes. Australia’s Qantas Airways is retiring its Boeing 747 fleet, and the last one got an iconic sendoff.
For the final Qantas Airlines 747 departure from Australia, pilots drew the airline’s kangaroo logo in the sky above the Tasman Sea via their flight path before heading east.
With six pilots aboard and zero passengers, it departed Sydney en route to the Mojave Air and Space Por in the California desert, where it will be stripped for parts.
Qantas said goodbye to its 747 today in style beginning with a low altitude tour of Sydney, a quick visit to retired fleet mate VH-OJA, and then a massive Qantas ‘Roo’ before heading across the Pacific. https://t.co/sDyfwbqKt3 pic.twitter.com/tDZIXChGh2
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 23, 2020
The 747s were supposed to be retired at the end of the year, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced that timeline to be moved up. Last week Qantas announced it would be shutting down all international routes until March 2021 due to lack of demand — and presumably Australia’s travel restrictions.
Worldwide, 747s seem to be going the way of the dodo, with United, Delta, and British Airways all having already retired their fleets. With the advent of the first Airbus A380 in 2007, the 747 model slowly became obsolete.
According to Owen Zupp, one of the pilots aboard Qantas’ last 747, the final flight was “a memory that we can look back on with pride. It is significant not just for Qantas’ history but aviation.”