Whether we like it or not, the 50 year old Boeing 747 is a dying breed.
After being such a familiar part of air travel and airports for so long, more and more airlines are getting rid of the type in favour of cheaper-to-run, more fuel-efficient twin-jet airliners like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
This is particularly true following the Coronavirus outbreak, which as seen air travel completely fall apart. Airlines like British Airways, KLM, Qantas and Corsair have all retired their 747 fleets in 2020 as a result.
Even the most recent 747-8 variant has seen relatively few orders, and Boeing recently indicated that it would stop building the 747 entirely when the current order backlog (of freighter versions) is complete.
According to our Boeing 747 Routes Page, there are currently 12 airlines flying the Boeing 747 in passenger service. Some have drastically reduced schedules any may even retire the type before we get back to flying as normal again.
Here are the airports where you’re most likely to see a Boeing 747.
Air China have a fleet of 747-400s and -8s plying mostly domestic routes out of Beijing Capital airport at the moment. As restrictions ease these are likely to resume more international routes again.
Seoul IncheonBoth Asiana Airline and Korean Air still operate Boeing 747s – the former has -400s, and the latter both -400s and -8s (although the -400s are likely to be retired soon). As a result you can still see plenty of 747s at their home base, Seoul Incheon in South Korea.
The international airport serving the capital of Taiwan is where you’ll see the 747-400s operated by China Airlines. While they haven’t been very active during the Covid-19 outbreak, they are expected to stay in the fleet for a few more years.
Lufthansa is still on paper the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747, with both -400s and -8s in its fleet. It has, however, sent a number of its -400s for part-out recently, and none are currently flying on its schedules. Its more modern 747-8s are currently flying to destinations such as Bangkok, Chicago O’Hare, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Shanghai Pudong.
Iran’s Mahan Air has a single Boeing 747-400 and even has some 747-300s (it’s the world’s last operator of the type). They haven’t been very active recently, but will probably resume both domestic and long-haul links in the near future. Anyway, Mehrabad is the airport to definitely see them!
Moscow Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo
Both of these airports are hubs for Rossiya Airlines – a Russian leisure airline which flies its Boeing 747-400s mostly on holiday routes to Europe, the Caribbean and Far East. They often fly to airports like Antalya, Phuket and Cancun. Sometimes they also operate domestic routes to Simferopol. They were grounded for much of lockdown, but are starting to re-emerge on some routes again.
Wamos Air is based at Madrid Barajas. It has a couple of Boeing 747-400s based there. This airline usually operates these aircraft on behalf of other carrier who need extra capacity or charters. But when not working they’re usually at Madrid.