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Korean Air first operator of Boeing 747-8I to Australia

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 4, 2017

Korean Air Boeing 747-8I HL7642 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Korean Air Boeing 747-8I HL7642 at Sydney Airport on Saturday September 2 2017. (Seth Jaworski)

Korean Air has become the first airline to operate the latest passenger variant of Boeing’s evergreen 747 to Australia.

The Skyteam alliance member’s Boeing 747-8I HL7642 touched down at Sydney Airport in the early hours of Saturday morning as KE121 from Seoul Incheon.

The aircraft was on the ground for about one hour and 40 minutes before taking off as the reciprocal KE122.

While Cathay Pacific has used the 747-8F freighter to Australia for a number of years, including to Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, Korean Air is the first airline to operate the 747-8I to Australia.

The only other 747-8I flights to Oceania have been occasional Korean Air flights between Seoul Incheon and Auckland and Air China services between Beijing and Auckland.


In addition to the 747-8I now on the route, Korean Air has also previously used Airbus A330s and A380s for its Sydney service, depending on the time of year.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8I HL7642 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Korean Air’s Sydney services are an overnight flight from Seoul Incheon and a morning departure from Mascot. (Seth Jaworski)

Korean Air is one of just three airlines flying the 747-8I passenger variant alongside Air China and Lufthansa, while there are 10 operators of the 747-8F freighter.

The Boeing website shows the 747-8 program has garnered 133 orders, comprising 88 -8F freighters and 45 -8I passenger aircraft. Of those 115 aircraft have been delivered, with 18 orders (17 freighters and one passenger variant) outstanding.

In July, Boeing said it was “reasonably possible” the company could end production of the 747 should new orders not materialise.

Further, the production rate of the iconic aircraft was being cut to six frames a year beginning in September.

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Comments (12)

  • B


    Korean use the 747-8 between AKL and ICN during summer. Usually the same period the A380 is rostered onto the SYD route.

    • australianaviation.com.au


      Indeed it is. Thanks @B. The story has been updated.

  • Lechuga


    Qantas should have a look at them whilst it’s down, sometimes you just can’t replace a good thing, for its range and all, they’d be a fairly good fit. 787s just won’t fill the hole the 747s will leave.

  • Barry


    I’m fairly sure they would have had a good look at it Lechuga and determined that the 787 is a phenomenally cheap aeroplane to operate compared to a 747, even the new -8 model. Hence the lack of orders.

  • Lechuga


    Barry, question is, what are qantas gonna do when they retire their 747s? How would they serve Johannesburg from Sydney? Virgin already had this issue with the 777 from Melbourne.

  • PAUL


    Nice Aircraft! limited future I know with modern technology but always confidence inspiring to look out on the wing & see 2 engines instead of one.

  • Trogdor


    Lechuga – they’ll simply bring pressure to bear on CASA until they drag themselves into the modern age and allow ETOPS 330 so Qantas can run a 787.

    LAN has been flying 787s Sydney to Santiago without a hitch for a while now.

  • Lechuga


    I guess that makes sense Trogdor. But it still doesn’t fix capacity issues.

  • Adrian P


    Going narrow body with a reduction in passengers is not just an airline route issue.
    With limited capacity at airports smaller aircraft means more movements for the same through put of passengers. Melbourne reckons it will have 80 movements an hour with the 3 runways. I reckon the most they are likely to get out of the final 4 runway layout will probably be maximum 120 movements an hour utilising the North- South pair of runways. The East-West runways will still be stuck with 80 an hour limit due to the need to use the long North-South runway for intercontinental traffic
    Heathrow can get 120 movements an hour through 2 runways and should get 180 an hour with the proposed third parallel runway. We are going to need more airports and preferably ones without runways crossing the primary runway.

  • David


    I hope this aircraft comes to Brisbane.

  • Adrian



    10 across Dreamliner! You know they want to.

  • D W Bell


    Successive governments at both Commonwealth and State level have backed the airlines into a hole, in terms of Sydney, in concert with the unions controlling the air traffic controllors. reality, Sydney should have had a 2nd airport 30 years ago, the third runway should have been an extra 400 metres and the world should have been square. There is still a need to have 4 engine big jets doing the extra long hull and trans oceania trips on the blue ribbon routes due to capacity. The A380 is both expensive in the air and on the ground, the 747 range was always a good fit with pax loads and distance. shame the engine makers could not tweek the designs to get the extra 1-3% efficiency. End of the day, qantas was sold a pup with the A380. the current balance of 12 A380’s and 10 late build (post 2000) 747’s is probably about right, but some dynamic thinking needs to start happening now other QAntas will end up being a south pacific end stop not major player in terms of world aviation..

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