As we enter 2018 the 747 is now becoming a rare beast in US skies. Only the now ageing 747-200 pair that operate as Air Force One carry any type of passenger.
Recent years have seen Cathay Pacific, ANA, JAL, Thai, EVA Air, United, Delta, Air France, Singapore Airlines remove their last 747-400’s from service along with others, and many of the largest operators have slashed their fleets.
The worlds largest operator was, and still is, British Airways, but the heady days of their 58 aircraft fleet are gone, with numbers reducing to 18 refurbished units that will remain until 2023.
KLM still operates the unusual combi, Virgin Atlantic still flies 7, Korean Air is keeping its fleet a while longer, enhanced with 10 748i’s. Lufthansa is also planning on keeping a handful of 744’s until 2022-23. As the only major customer for the 748i – ordering 25, but only taking delivery of 19, it declared in 2015 that it was disappointed with their economy and performance and would retire them as the reached 10 years of age. They’ll be replacing them with 777-9’s. The Transaero and Arik Air 748i’s will Now never happen as one was forced into bankruptcy and the other isn’t far behind.
In November there were 379 of the classic 747-400 configuration still in the air, as well as 124 of the 747-8 variant. Of those, 236 are in service as passenger planes, so it’s not quite over and out for the 747 yet.