Saturday October 25, 2014

End of an era as Qantas retires the 737 classic

VH-TJS departs Canberra. (Gerard Frawley)

VH-TJS departs Canberra. (Gerard Frawley)

Qantas has operated its last 737-400 revenue flight, marking the end of scheduled Boeing 737-300/-400 ‘classic’ passenger services in Australia.

Qantas 737-476 VH-TJS Jabiru operated the final service, QF819 from Canberra to Melbourne, on Sunday afternoon, the 48 minute flight departing at 17:23 and touching down 48 minutes later at 18:11. An Airservices ARFF monitor cross on pushback in Canberra marked the milestone.

The CFM56-powered 737 classic was introduced into Australia with Australian Airlines, which took delivery of 737-300 VH-TAG in August 1986. Later that month Ansett too took delivery of its first 737-300, VH-CZA. The first Australian Airlines 737-400 was delivered from December 1988. Both the 737-300 and -400 became a mainstay of the Qantas domestic fleet following the Qantas-Australian Airlines merger in 1992-93. VH-TJS was in fact the last 737-400 to be delivered in Australian Airlines colours.

The classic will continue to ply its trade in Australia as a freighter, with 737-300Fs remaining in service with Qantas Freight and Toll Express. In addition, Nauru’s Our Airline has three 737-300s on the VH register.

VH-TJS receives an ARFF salute on pushback from Canberra. (Gerard Frawley)

VH-TJS receives an ARFF salute on pushback from Canberra. (Gerard Frawley)

VH-TJS on approach to Melbourne's runway 16. (Gordon Reid)

VH-TJS on approach to Melbourne’s runway 16. (Gordon Reid)



17 Responses to “End of an era as Qantas retires the 737 classic”
  1. Red Barron says:

    A true workhorse for Qantas, However retirement defiantly over due. I flew in a 400 back from Townsville to Brisbane over a year ago it was defiantly showing it’s age with worn interior and drab paint. Joyce sure got his money worth out of these birds.

  2. Frequent Flyer says:

    I am not sure that the B717s that are being used as replacements are better though.

  3. Marc says:

    The 717′s are much quieter in the front half of the plane. With less seats, they’re quicker to load/unload too. I actually prefer the smaller jets. As for the 737s, weren’t they in service with Ansett earlier than 1986?

  4. Scott says:

    I’ve flown in TJS and a bunch of others, what a workhorse slogging it out for years without serious incident.. A sad end of course, but many fond memories of the classic. Till the next one retires I guess..

  5. Andrew says:

    Yes, QF certainly got their money’s worth with that model! Great planes…

    Minor detail- classic 737s (ie any non-Next Generation models) were actually introduced to Australia by Ansett in June 1981 with the -200 marque. Those earlier models didn’t stay long however, before the introduction of the -300 and -400 marques.

    Glad we can still see these older workhorses flying around as freighters :)

  6. Joseph Favazza says:

    The B737-300 was a wonderful asset for any Airline. Methinks Australian Airlines introduced the First B737-300 in August 1986, VH-TAG ‘Advance’ Australian Airlines were the first to have the ‘EFIS Cockpit’ , Ansett introduced their B737-300 in September 1986, VH-CZA. Ansett did have B737-200′s at the time.

  7. Luke says:

    Yes, Ansett did have 737s earlier than 1986. They were 737-200s. With the fleet for a very short time and sold to America West.

  8. says:

    You are quite right Joseph, article has been corrected.

  9. says:

    Regarding Ansett’s 737-200s, the ‘classic’ moniker is widely accepted to mean the CFM56-3 powered 737-300/-400/-500 series, and not the earlier JT8D-powered 737-100 and -200.

  10. Sean says:

    In Dublin Aer Lingus called the B737-200 “classic”, 300/400/500 “EFIS”. Now only Airbus !!!

  11. Ian says:

    Having clocked up over 50 CBR-BNE-TSV and return flights in the last 4 years I can say the 400 was a good solid plane but most probably due for retirement. While I find the new 800 series a very “clean and bright” aircraft I would hazard a guess there would less than a third of the fleet with seat-back entertainment systems despite some advertising that gives the impression that it is across the board. As such the new capability doesn’t really offer a lot of difference.

    As for the 717 used on some of routes ex Canberra – a nice, clean and comfortable aircraft that is certainly quiter than a lot of jets.

  12. Reverend says:

    i would like to see the boeing 747-400 767 gone. and Qantas buy the boeing 787-9 50 of them and buy the A380 Airbus or may be boeing 777-8x. I hope the codeshare between Qantas and SAA to Johannesburg will be reinstated

  13. Glen says:

    It won’t be many of these left soon Air NZ will soon retire all of these once all there A320s are delivered . I must admit I no fan of the 737 much prefer the A320 more room and quieter .

  14. franz chong says:

    I have been on a few of these in my time and love them but like anything things have to go and time to move on.It was 1990 when the 737-400′s first arrived and they have lasted a long time.

  15. JWJ says:

    A couple of vague bits of history. VH-TJS came out of the paintshop with Jabiru spelt Jabira. The plane was planned to be the first 737-400 to be delivered in Qantas colours … but the co-branding was delayed and so, as noted, it was the last 737 delivered in Australian Airlines livery.

  16. Taurean Lea says:

    I would like to congratulate all of the Boeing 737-400s on their retirement after many years of service to Australia. I am going to miss the Qantas Boeing 737-400s very much :’-(.

  17. Ian P says:

    Would have been nice for it to end up at the QF Museum. Maybe a 763 will end its days there as the resale market must be limited.