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Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU to be retired in October

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 26, 2019
A 2016 file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU. (Seth Jaworski)
A 2016 file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas’s Boeing 747-400 fleet will be reduced to six aircraft from mid-October when VH-OJU Lord Howe Island is withdrawn from service.

The airline said on Monday VH-OJU’s final commercial flight before the aircraft is retired has been scheduled for October 13 2019 as a special one-off service from Sydney to Los Angeles, with flight number QF99.

And frequent flyers will have the first opportunity to secure their place on QF99, with all 364 seats only available via points redemptions until September 2. Any remaining seats will then be made available for sale to the general public.

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The cost to redeem a seat on QF99 starts at 41,900 points and $205 in taxes, fees and carrier charges for economy, increasing to 72,000 points and $405 for premium economy, and topping out at 96,000 points and $480 for business.

Flight QF99 was scheduled to depart Sydney at 1700 and arrive in Los Angles at 1250 local time the same day.

It is the third “points plane” flight Qantas has offered in recent times. There will also be a one-off Airbus A380 service from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita on October 21 2019, as well as an Airbus A330 Tokyo Narita-Melbourne service on October 26 2019.

Qantas has also scheduled eight one-off domestic flights with the 747-400/400ER between November 2019 and February 2020.

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A 2016 file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU. (Seth Jaworski)
A 2016 file image of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU. (Seth Jaworski)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU at Avalon Airport for the Qantas Rural Aid charity flight. (Cameron Hines)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU at Avalon Airport for the Qantas Rural Aid charity flight in 2019. (Cameron Hines)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU operating the Qantas Rural Aid charity flight to Avalon Airport. (Cameron Hines)
Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJU operating the Qantas Rural Aid charity flight to Avalon Airport. (Cameron Hines)

Qantas winding down 747-400 fleet

The near-20-year-old VH-OJU has 58 business class seats, 36 premium economy seats and 270 economy seats. It is one of seven 747-400/400ERs in the Qantas fleet due to be withdrawn by the time the airline celebrates its centenary at the end of calendar 2020.

The seven aircraft comprise six GE-powered 747-438ERs (VH-OEE thru OEJ) delivered between 2002 and 2003 and VH-OJU, which is powered by Rolls-Royce engines and delivered in 2000.

The most recent retirement was VH-OEB MSN 25778 Phillip Island, which was withdrawn on June 2.

In all, Qantas has operated 65 747s, taking delivery of 57 new 747s from Boeing, purchasing three 747‑400s second-hand 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).


VIDEO: A Qantas television advertisement celebrating the introduction into service of the Boeing 747-400 in 1989 from the Yogiew2 YouTube channel.

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13 Comments

  • Joe Jarvis

    says:

    ah what can one say such a reliable aircraft so elegant i myself have allways loved the 747 speedbird

  • reeves35

    says:

    The most noteworthy part of this retirement is it marks the end of the RR RB211 in Qantas’ fleet. As well as the 747-400s, they also powered the 767-300ERs Qantas acquired from BA. Qantas had a full RR engine shop which I imagine is now to be shut permanently.

    • Stu Bee

      says:

      The A380’s are RR powered but, and I’m happy to be corrected on this, I believe they are only line serviced by Qantas and any major servicing is done at RR.

  • Eric

    says:

    Doesn’t seem like 30 years ago that we ushered in the arrival of the Dash 400. I remember as a teen living under the flight path at Mascot seeing VH-OJA make her first flights. Will be sad to see the Qantas 747 fleet dwindle to nothing…

  • Stef

    says:

    I joined QF as a flight steward in 1979 and the entire fleet comprised 16 747-200 series aircraft thereby making Qantas , at the time , the worlds only all 747 airline.

  • Pontius

    says:

    It is sad to see such fantastic aircraft being retired. The timing of the B747 retirement from the Qantas fleet is made sadder in two ways:-

    1. The final aircraft will depart less than 12 months short of the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the B747 into the QF fleet (it would have been great to achieve that milestone), &

    2. The six B747-400ER’s & VH-OJS/T/U are being retired at only 3/4 of the normal lifespan that the aircraft normally serve with QF – they are still very serviceable and reliable aircraft.

  • Peter

    says:

    So sad. To me she will always be ‘Queen of the Sky’ Pity the 747-800 wasn’t purchased by QF. At least LH has them

  • Lou

    says:

    Jeff hook would be disappointed

    • Andrew

      says:

      Jamie the Jumbo Jet. I think he would have written a book showing them to be out to pasture….in a kind retirement.

  • Mike

    says:

    Sadly I think I have made my last flight aboard a Qantas B747, unless by some miracle of timing there is a seat available on one of the upcoming domestic sectors. Anyway, it is with some personal satisfaction I can reflect upon having logged flights over the years aboard the QF B747-38SP; a leased B747-123 (VH-EEI in AirPacific “flying fruit tingle” livery); the Classic B747-238B and the Combi version thereof; the B747-338; and the B747-438 and -438ER.
    Of these many types the favourite would have to be the B747SP which had a forward galley on the starboard side running between doors R1 and R2. As the ovens and cart stowages were located inboard, the entire window line between the first and second starboard doors was available as a panoramic viewing gallery.
    Indeed it will be a sad day for us avgeeks when the final QF B747-438ER departs, however Qantas has given our nation the lasting legacy of B747-238B VH-EBQ and the record holding first B747-438 VH-OJA for posterity! Thanks for the memories!

  • AlanH

    says:

    At least we will still see the stately Queen of the Skies coming and going in freighter guise for many years to come in most of our major airports. It’s beautiful to behold on approach and landing, and simply stunning on takeoff. Has far more graceful lines than the dumpy-looking A380, but it’s time has come (as has the A380’s for that matter). A new (boring) breed of single deck wide-body twin-engine heavies are taking over the skies!

  • Rod SWAN

    says:

    To my knowledge VH-OJU is NOT an ER.

  • Esmond Lucas

    says:

    I was lucky to be selected as the Supply Representative from Melbourne, who flew to Auckland, New Zealand to assist with the procurement and supply of spare parts for VH-OJU that was being serviced by Air New Zealand. I truly enjoyed the whole experience having been with Qantas for 34 years and worked predominantly in the Supply Department, in Melbourne.

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