Travel company Constellation Journeys is planning one final around-the-world charter with a Qantas Boeing 747 ahead of the type’s withdrawal from service at the end of 2020.
The 18-day tour was due to depart in April 2020 and visit Cambodia, French Polynesia, Jordan, Iceland and Mexico, among other locations.
Constellation Journeys managing director Dan Kotzmann described the tour as “one last grand adventure of the Queen of the Skies”.
The chartered Boeing 747 will be operated by Qantas pilots and cabin crew.
“This will be the ‘swansong’ world charter for the Boeing 747 as it will be retired from the Qantas fleet in late 2020,” Qantas Captain Greg Fitzgerald, who will be flying the aircraft, said in a statement.
“That in itself makes this journey unique compared to all others that have gone before.”
Constellation Journeys first charter tour with the Qantas 747 was in 2018.
Qantas winding down 747-400 fleet
Currently, the Qantas 747-400/400ER fleet stood at seven aircraft.
There were 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 aircraft have 58 business class seats, 36 premium economy seats and 270 economy seats.
The airline’s 747 fleet will be reduced to six aircraft in mid-October, when VH-OJU Lord Howe Island was due to be withdrawn.
The final flight of VH-OJU has been scheduled for October 13 2019 as a special one-off service from Sydney to Los Angeles, with flight number QF99.
In August, Qantas made all 364 seats on the flight available for redemption with frequent flyer points until September 2, when any remaining seats were put on sale to the general public.
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.
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).
The 747 fleet was due to be withdrawn by the time Qantas celebrated its centenary at the end of calendar 2020.