Qantas’s first Boeing 747-400 has arrived back in Australia and is expected to be shortly be on its way to a yet-to-be-identified retirement home.
After a delay of more than four hours, VH-OJA departed Los Angeles as QF18 in the early hours of Friday morning at 0045 local time bound for Sydney.
The flight landed at Mascot some 14 hours later at 1019 Saturday Sydney time.
The aircraft operated what was expected to be its last commercial flight on December 7, when it departed Sydney as QF107 to Los Angeles. It was then expected to make the short hop across to Victorville where it was to be placed into storage.
However, OJA, which was the first Boeing 747-400 in the Qantas fleet and flew nonstop from London to Sydney in 1989 as part of its delivery flight, operated a Los Angeles-New York-Los Angeles rotation on December 12, according to flight tracking website Flightaware.
It was understood Qantas was keen to gift the aircraft to a museum because of its place in Australian aviation history.
The Qantas Founders Museum has ruled out taking VH-OJA, while Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) president Bob De La Hunty described social media reports his society would take the aircraft as “rumour mongering”.
A Qantas spokesperson said in an emailed statement the airline had “nothing to announce yet” on OJA’s fate.
“We are still working through the logistics,” the spokesperson told Australian Aviation on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Qantas resumed Boeing 747-400 operations from Melbourne Airport on Friday with the start of a new three-times-a-week service to Los Angeles. Qantas now has 10 flights a week to Los Angeles, a daily afternoon departure with Airbus A380 aircraft and three evening flights a week with the 747.
Read more about VH-OJA’s 1989 delivery flight in the January/February edition of Australian Aviation.