Qantas will retire its first-ever Boeing 747-400 next month, representing a milestone in the airline's modernisation drive.
Although Qantas has put several of its jumbo jets out to pasture in recent years, the aircraft making its last passenger flight on December 7th as QF107 from Sydney to Los Angeles is notable for being the Flying Kangaroo's first Boeing 747, delivered in 1989 as the flagship of the international fleet.
It was this jumbo – christened City of Canberra, with the registration VH-OJA – which opened up the one-stop Kangaroo Route between Australia and London with Singapore as the sole stop-over, an arrangement which continued for almost 25 years until the Qantas-Emirates alliance saw Dubai take over that role.
VH-OJA made a promotional non-stop flight from London to Sydney – albeit with very few passengers and cargo – to highlight the jumbo's long-range capabilities, speeding through the 18,000 kilometre (11,190 mile) journey in just over 20 hours.
Indeed, the entire Boeing 747-400 fleet carried the name 'Longreach' – which was not only a nod to the Queensland town once home to Qantas but also an implication of the jets' extended range.
The retirement of OJA will leave Qantas with 12 Boeing 747-400s, nine of which have been updated to Airbus A380-grade seats, cabins and interiors.
After its final commercial flight to Los Angeles as QF107, VH-OJA will be sent to California's Victorville 'boneyard' on December 8th.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.