United Airlines is retiring their Boeing 747 jumbo jets early. The final flight of the “Queen of the Skies” is coming this year. United previously said their 747s would phase out by the end of 2018.
Scott Kirby, United Airlines President, says it’s a bittersweet milestone, but the time has come to retire the 747 fleet. There are more reliable, fuel-efficient, and cost-effective aircraft available now, providing an updated flight experience. Because of this, they’re saying farewell to the Queen of the Skies. 727’s have been part of the fleet since 1970 when they first flew the aircraft between California and Hawaii.
United’s plans to accelerate the retirement of 747s conveniently comes the same day the Federal Aviation Administration begins issuing an airworthiness directive. The directive calls for expensive fixes to older aircraft models, including 747.
United’s last 747 flight will now be in the fourth quarter of this year.
Kirby says that they will be working with those who fly or work on 747s to ensure a smooth transition to other fleets. He also promises workers to give the 747 an appropriate final send-off with an unforgettable retirement celebration.
United is shifting their 747 to a newer widebody jet, the Boeing 777-300ER models. The 747s currently seat 374 passengers, the new 777-300ERs will seat 366.
United also has many new widebody planes coming into their fleet, including Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliner models seating 219 and 252 passengers. Many of those models are already flying for the carrier. And in 2018, they should be receiving the newly designed Airbus A350 jets.
Delta Air Lines is the only other U.S. carrier that currently uses 747s. Like United, Delta has also begun phasing out their models of the jet. The carrier expects to retire their last 747 by the end of this year.
Delta will use multiple models to replace their 747s. They include the new Airbus A330 that are currently being supplied to United. They’re also adding the Airbus A350 that Delta should start receiving next year.