2020 will be known for many things, but in the world of aviation it will be remembered for the year that brought an abrupt end to the Boeing 747.
At approximately 14:00 AEST on Wednesday 22 July 2020, a Qantas Boeing 747 VH-OEJ will depart Sydney for Los Angeles under flight number QF7474 as its last flight.
From Los Angeles, it complete a short hop to Mojave to join a number of Qantas Boeing 747s which have been in storage since the suspension of international flights.
It has been a long time since Qantas has operated scheduled international flights and even longer since Qantas Boeing 747s were seen at London Heathrow.
It’s no exaggeration to say the Boeing 747 fundamentally changed Qantas’ position in global aviation and how passengers travelled from Europe to Australia.
Qantas Before The Boeing 747
Before the Boeing 747 entered into service, Qantas was Australia’s self-styled “Round The World Airline”.
At its peak, with its fleet of Boeing 707 aircraft, Qantas offered no less than four different routings between the UK and Australia.
There was the “Kangaroo Route” which traced its origins to the 1930s. A typical routing with the Boeing 707 was London – Rome – Cairo – Karachi – Calcutta – Bangkok – Singapore – Darwin.
In 1959, Qantas also launched a westbound service to Sydney via New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Fiji.
Five years later in 1964, Qantas added two additional routes. There was a relatively short-lived second westbound service to Sydney known as the “Fiesta route”. This called at Bermuda, Nassau, Mexico City, Acapulco, Tahiti and Fiji.
A second eastbound route called at either Athens or Istanbul, Tehran, New Delhi, Hong Kong (with the option of flying on to Tokyo) before reaching Australia.
The 747 changed everything. It enabled passengers to reach Australia with just two stops en-route from London.
Qantas’ first Boeing 747 aircraft was the 747B. This had the same dimensions as the first variant of the 747, but with a longer range and higher maximum take-off weight.
It had capacity for 356 passengers, with the galleys located below the main deck. In common with other airlines, there was a dedicated “Captain Cook” lounge for First Class passengers on the Upper Deck.
Qantas’ first Boeing 747 flight departed London Heathrow for Sydney via Bahrain and Singapore on Friday 26 November 1971. Flights initially operated twice weekly on Fridays and Sundays.
In March 1974, Qantas added a second one-stop service from London Heathrow to Perth via Mumbai with a journey time of around 20 hours.Continue reading “Qantas Bids Farewell To The Boeing 747”