Korean Air has released a picture of the first of four Qantas Airbus A380s it is repainting into the Australian carrier’s new livery.
The first first aircraft, A380 VH-OQJ Bert Hinkler emerged from Korean Air’s paintshop at Gimhae International Airport on May 24, having been ferried to Busan on May 8.
Korean Air said the contract to repaint four Qantas A380s was signed in July 2018.
The remaining three A380s would be repainted sequentially from 2020, Korean Air said in as statement on May 31.
The A380s are being repainted in the new livery that was unveiled in 2017, featuring a “streamlined” pawless kangaroo on the tail, a slimmer font and adding the word Qantas on the belly.
A silver band also extends from the tail to the rear of the fuselage.
Further, a kangaroo has been added to the inside curved edge of the wingtips, a larger kangaroo on the engine cowls and having the “winged kangaroo” that was part of the airline’s tails in the 1960s to 1980s under the cockpit window.
It is only the fifth livery Qantas has introduced since the kangaroo first appeared on Qantas aircraft in 1944. The most recent livery update was in 2007, just prior to Qantas introducing the A380 into service in 2008.
The airline’s other eight A380s were being repainted by Emirates Engineering in Dubai, with the contract announced in February 2018.
The first of the Emirates Engineering repainted A380s returned to Australia in April 2018.
In addition to the repainting, Qantas’s fleet of 12 A380s are also being reconfigured with new seats.
Qantas planned to have its entire fleet repainted with the new look in time for the airline’s centenary in 2020.
Among the other aircraft in the fleet, Airbus A330s have been repainted in Victorville, California, Boeing 737-800s in Seletar, Singapore and at Flying Colours in Townsville, plus Dash 8 Q300s and Q400s at Flying Colours in Townsville.
Some Fokker 100s have also been repainted in Seletar and with Douglas Aerospace in Wagga Wagga.
Korean Air said its paintshop had repainted more than 100 aircraft from other airlines.
“Built in 1998, the facility is equipped with a computer-based temperature control system and maintains the world’s highest level of painting standards,” Korean Air said.
“It also creates a pleasant working environment and is certified ISO14001, international standard for environmental management systems.”
In other Qantas fleet news, the airline’s 747-400/400ER fleet is down to seven aircraft following the withdrawal of VH-OEB on June 2.
The 26-year-old aircraft, MSN 25778 named Phillip Island, operated its last commercial flight as QF73 from Sydney to San Francisco, on June 2.
It was then ferried to Los Angeles as QF6021.
After 26 years of service #Qantas #Boeing 747-48E Reg: VH-OEB lands at #LAX one last time on Sunday June 2nd, 2019. Operating as flight QF6021 from #SanFrancisco the “Queen” officially retires from the Qantas fleet. #planespotting #b747 #avgeek #qantas747 @Qantas @flyLAXairport pic.twitter.com/0V4a4HAmGN
— AIRLINE VIDEOS (@airlinevideos) June 3, 2019
The GE-powered VH-OEB was the last 747 that had Qantas’s old first class seats in the nose, with the remaining 747-400s and -400ERs having been reconfigured with a three-class layout comprising business, premium economy and economy.
It was built for Asiana in 1993 and acquired by Qantas in 1998.
In all, Qantas has operated 65 747s, taking delivery of 57 new 747s from Boeing, purchasing three 747‑400s secondhand and operating five leased aircraft at various points. And for a period between the retirement of its last 707 in March 1978 and the delivery of its first 767 in July 1985 Qantas even operated an all-747 fleet.
The first 747 entered service with Qantas in September 1971, and in time the airline would operate almost every major 747 variant, including the 747SP, the 747 Combi, the 747-300 (which introduced the extended upper deck), the 747-400, and the 747‑400ER (Extended Range).
The departure of VH-OEB leaves the 747 fleet at seven aircraft, comprising six GE-powered 747-438ERs (VH-OEE thru OEJ) delivered between 2002 and 2003 and one Rolls-Royce-powered 747-438s (VH-OJU) delivered in the 1999-2000 timeframe.
Qantas announced in May 2018 all 747s would be retired by the time the airline celebrated its centenary in 2020.