Marking the end of an era, Singapore Airline’s Boeing 747-400 departed Melbourne for the final time on Sunday, fully booked.
The flight brought to an end nearly four decades of 747 service by SIA, which used the now aged “Queen of the Skies” to establish itself as Australia’s largest foreign carrier and build a reputation as an airline worth paying a bit more for.
“The 747 has played an integral part in Singapore Airlines’ success, transforming us into a global carrier flying millions of customers across five continents,” SIA’s Australian manager, Subhas Menon, said in a statement. “We deployed our 747 fleet to our five Australian stations over the years, with Melbourne and Sydney in particular benefiting from the aircraft that came to epitomise the romance of air travel.”
SIA was once the world’s largest operators of 747-400 with a fleet that reached 51 aircraft by 2003. But like other carriers, in recent it has pushed aside the 747 in favour of the newer Airbus A380 and the more economic Boeing 777. SIA will make its final 747 voyage on April 6 with a special commemorative flight between Singapore and Hong Kong, featuring extended flying time for 747 aficionados. Passengers on the final Melbourne-Singapore flight got a piece of commemorative cake.
For Australians still feeling the romance of the 747, all is not lost. Qantas plans to continue operating a fleet of nine refurbished 747-400s until 2020.
Boeing also expects to begin deliveries this year of an updated jumbo jet, the 747-8 Intercontinental, though it has so far sold only 36 copies of the passenger version of the plane, including 20 to launch customer Lufthansa.