Asiana Airlines Bids Farewell to its Last Boeing 747

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 747 climbs after takeoff.
Alan Wilson , CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On March 25th, 2024, a chapter closed in aviation history for South Korea.

Asiana Airlines conducted its final flight with a Boeing 747-400 passenger jet, marking the retirement of the iconic “Queen of the Skies” from its fleet.

The aircraft, with registration HL7428, took off from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) for its final journey to Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) as flight OZ712.

The sentimental occasion wasn’t lost on aviation enthusiasts, who filled the flight to capacity, eager to be part of this historic moment.

Asiana Airlines had a long and successful relationship with the Boeing 747. HL7428, which entered service in 1999, was the last of three 747-400 passenger jets ever operated by the airline.

However, with advancements in technology and fuel efficiency, airlines around the world have begun phasing out the 747 in favor of more modern aircraft.

This retirement signifies the end of an era for Asiana Airlines and South Korea as a whole. The Boeing 747-400 was a mainstay in long-haul travel for decades, offering passengers a spacious and luxurious flying experience.

Its distinctive humped fuselage and four powerful engines made it a recognizable symbol of air travel.

Asiana Airlines and Long Haul Travel

Established in 1988, Asiana is the country’s second-largest airline, operating a significant portion of both domestic and international passenger traffic. It’s a full-service carrier, offering passengers a comfortable and convenient flying experience across various cabin classes.

Asiana Airlines has played a vital role in connecting South Korea to the world. With its international hub at Incheon International Airport, the airline has served as a gateway for travelers coming to and departing from the country.

The Boeing 747, with its impressive range and capacity, undoubtedly played a part in this growth, facilitating long-haul travel on routes spanning Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Asian Carriers Keeping the 747 Alive

While Asiana Airlines has retired its Boeing 747 passenger fleet, a few other Asian carriers continue to operate these legendary aircraft. Here’s a look at some airlines in Asia still flying the “Queen of the Skies”:

  • Air China: China’s national carrier, Air China, boasts an active fleet of both Boeing 747-400 and the more advanced 747-8 passenger variants.
  • Korean Air: Asiana’s main competitor, Korean Air, hasn’t announced plans to retire its 747s just yet.
  • Cathay Pacific Cargo: While passenger 747s might be a fading sight in Asia, Cathay Pacific Cargo, the dedicated cargo arm of Cathay Pacific Airways, continues to utilize a fleet specifically designed for freight hauling. Their fleet consists of two types of 747 freighters:
    • Boeing 747-400ERFs (Extended Range Freighters): These are six older model 747s specifically modified for cargo with a strengthened fuselage and large cargo doors.
    • Boeing 747-8Fs: They also operate a larger fleet of 14 Boeing 747-8Fs, which is the world’s largest commercial freighter aircraft.
A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 on the tarmac.
Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific.

Conclusion: Long Live the Queen

While the retirement of the 747 marks a turning point, Asiana Airlines continues to look towards the future.

The airline operates a modern fleet of other aircraft and is a member of the Star Alliance, a global network that provides passengers with seamless travel options across member airlines.

While the “Queen of the Skies” may no longer grace Asiana’s fleet, its legacy lives on. The Boeing 747 revolutionized air travel, making long-distance journeys more accessible and affordable. For many, it will continue to hold a special place in aviation history.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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