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Qantas retires its very first Boeing 747-400

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, Boeing 747

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.

Also read: Retrospective – Qantas' first Boeing 747 jumbo jet

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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.

 

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1 on 21/11/14 by reeves35

OJA has given great service and after 25 years is due for retirement.  It is a bit hard to call it a modernisation program given the retirement represents a capacity reduction.  At this stage there are no orders for QF Int'l to replace the capacity lost as these 744s leave.

1 on 21/11/14 by eminere

Agreed.

2 on 21/11/14 by moa999

I thought the A330s returning from JQ, as well as the retiming of certain A380 flights increasing utilisation, were making up for the retiring international 747s and domestic 767s

1 on 21/11/14 by watson374

They are. In addition to that, the domestic 767s are being mostly replaced by more frequent 737s, particularly on the Triangle.

Anyway, as much as we love her, OJA's time is up. The last time I flew on her, the air conditioning leaked condensation on my row.

1 on 21/11/14 by AJW

That happens on brand new aircraft too. Flew on a near new SQ 77W (9V-SWV) a few months back same result. Not a surprise really considering the humidity in Singapore.

Then on the way back from London an an A380 I had ice drop onto me.

2 on 21/11/14 by whipper

Actually that is wrong reeves35 Qantas' international fleet is now made up of 12 A380's and 10 A330-300's for the international fleet + the newer 747's.  A lot of the capacity from the 747 and 767 international fleet retirements has already been replaced by the newer aircraft.  

1 on 22/11/14 by AJW

If you are talking about pure capacity you forgot the 4 international configured A332's, which since the return of the JQ A332's are flying more international destinations then they did before (still a number of transcon too). For example SYD-CGK is now more or less run by A332's. Then there also a number of 737's that fly international too, for capacity you should include the ZK registered aircraft.

3 on 21/11/14 by RK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the introduction of this aircaft saw Singapore become the sole stop-over between Australia and London. Back when the 747-400 started flying, the flagship QF1 service went via Bangkok.

A great aircraft that will be missed. It's such a shame Qantas have no plans to introduce any new aircraft to make up for all this lost capacity of recent times. Imagine how nice some brand-spanking new 787's, 777's or 747-800's would be?

1 on 21/11/14 by watson374

Yes, but the 'flagship' service has been a bit wobbly in terms of definition. When OQA blew an engine, the 'flagship' was QF31/32 via SIN, no?

All very muddled it was when there were lots of overlapping services via BKK, HKG and SIN.

2 on 21/11/14 by ILIKEPLANES101

Yes QF1 has changed a  bit but its been QF31/32 for a while until DXB but Qantas has had services to LHR via BKK, SIN, HKG and now DXB some at the same time.

1 on 21/11/14 by ILIKEPLANES101

Woops looks like I had the same idea as Watson

3 on 21/11/14 by abudhabi1

QF1 went via Bangkok and the QF9 was via Singapore to London from memory.It's a shame they were all binned for Dubai of all places.

1 on 21/11/14 by AB__CD

QF used to do 3x daily to LHR - QF1/2 SYD-(BKK/SIN/HKG)-LHR, QF9/10 MEL-SIN-LHR, QF31/32 SYD-SIN-LHR, AFAIK. Eventually, they dropped QF31/32 and made QF1/2 go via SIN daily.

1 on 23/11/14 by AJW

Actually they did 4 daily and the HKG flight was never QF1/2.

That said QF1/2 has changed many times over the years and prior to the 744 used to make a stop over in Bahrain.

So talk of being through Asia being the tradition and going through the middle east is a bit miss guided. It may have been that way for the past 25 odd years (until the most recent change) but prior to that stopped in the middle east and various other ports too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 on 21/11/14 by Tom

I have, in the depth of my admittedly unreliable memory, images of flying LHR - SIN/ BKK non-stop with a QF 747-300. If I am correct, then OJA cannot claim bragging rights as the first one stop to Europe.......

1 on 23/11/14 by AJW

OJA's true bragging rights was NON STOP from LHR to SYD. 

That said think your memory may be a tad wrong, the 743's The 743 has a range of 6700nm, SIN-LHR has great circle distance of 6765nm. Of course flight paths wouldn't be true great circle so would be longer.

5 on 23/11/14 by Andrew

My first flight to Europe was on OJA in 2005, back then it was the most amazing thing to have your own individual seat back screen, now even jetstar offers them and if a business class seat isnt lie-flat you will say it was the worst experience of your life! Oh I love how things have changed.

6 on 23/11/14 by Russell79

Does anyone know when the last three non-reconfigured 747's will be retired? 

1 on 23/11/14 by GregXL

I think the fleet plans announced in Feb had all the non-refurb 747s gone by the end of 2015.  Some more route/schedule changes will be needed to operate with just the 9 747s.

7 on 24/11/14 by patrickk

There was as the one stop via Mumabi there for a while in the 1980s and that was QF1 as I recall on a 743  think.

8 on 24/11/14 by AWA2602

A little piece of me just died! VH-OJA was the first B747-400 I ever flew on on my first ever solo overseas journey in 1994! She was also the aircraft that brought me home on each of my next four trips back to Australia and the aircraft I was onboard the first time I travelled in First Class and the first time I travelled in Business Class! I am going to really miss the B747 when QF stops flying them.

9 on 26/11/14 by Adam

What do they do with it?

10 on 5/12/14 by Jane

OJA's record breaking first flight from London to Sydney non-stop was Captained by my then husband David, who worked tirelesly on the 400's inception.

He and our son, who is now flying 737's & third generation wearing the Qantas livery, will be there tomorrow to say goodbye. 

A sad day indeed!

11 on 1/3/15 by RIPQF77

While I completley understand the neccecity of retiring the 747s it does sadden me greatly as they still remain my favourite plane :( 

 

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