As legacy Boeing 747 operators begin to retire the “Queen of the Skies” many are wondering if they will ever be able to fly onboard this iconic aircraft again.
We have put together a comprehensive list of airlines still operating the Boeing 747 passenger model. List subject to further updates.
Air China, the flag carrier of the PRC, still operates 8 passenger B747 aircraft. In addition to operating the older -400 variant, Air China also operates the newer -8 Intercontinental model. Both have a First Class cabin, with the latter featuring 12 seats in the nose. An additional 747-8I aircraft is used for VIP and governmental transport.
The airline usually operates all their 747 aircraft on domestic routes (mostly between Beijing and another city). In terms of international services, the -400 models fly European routes (to Madrid and occasionally London). The -8 variants fly to the USA infrequently.
Air India still operates four 747-400s, with a mean age of 24.5 years. Each aircraft features a retro interior that came factory-fresh (25 years ago)! Like Air China, the Indian flag-carrier has 12 First Class seats located in the nose, on the bottom deck.
All but one of Air India’s 747s have been grounded since February or March. According to Flightradar24 data, VT-EVA has been flying some domestic services and international services; these have been mostly to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
South Korea-based Asiana Airlines operates just one 747-400 in a passenger configuration (the remaining 10 airframes are all freighters). In its passenger configuration, Asiana’s 747 features eight ‘Royal Business’ First Class seats in the nose.
HL-7428, the 22-year-old passenger model, operates regular services to China (usually Changchun and Guangzhou). Interestingly, Asiana has continued to operate their single 747, even when all of their Airbus A380 aircraft are grounded or conducting training flights.
China Airlines, the flag carrier of Taiwan, operates four 747-400 passenger aircraft. Each 15-year-old aircraft has 12 flatbed First Class seats (Business Class features outdated recliner seats). These aircraft have not flown passenger services since February or March.
Three of the four 747s have been operating regular training flights around Taipei or to Kaohsiung, each lasting 20-40 minutes. These flights ensure that the crew maintain operational proficiency, likely indicating that China Airlines is planning to continue operating these aircraft beyond COVID-19.
Iraqi Airways operates two 747-400 aircraft, with a mean age of 22 years. Very few details are available on them, but one hasn’t flown regularly since late-2019. The other, YI-ASA, flew regular services to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Egypt until February. Neither has flown passengers since, although some unusual flights have been detected by Flightradar24 around the Middle East.
Korean Air has 12 passenger 747s in total (two -400 and ten -8). As the second-largest operator of the “Queen of the Skies” globally, the flag carrier of South Korea clearly has a vested interest in the aircraft.
KAL’s two 747-400 aircraft have a mean age of 22.5 years and are the last of an extensive historical fleet. Sam Chui flew in the retro First Class cabin back in 2016. Neither aircraft has flown passengers since late-February.
Korean Air also operates ten 747-8 aircraft, with a median age of 3.8 years. Most of the fleet hasn’t flown since March; however two aircraft have operated occasional services to Budapest, Milan and Prague recently, according to Flightradar24 tracking data.
As the largest operator of the 747 in the world, Lufthansa continues to use the aircraft as its long-haul workhorse. The German airline operates 26 passenger-configured 747s (seven -400 and nineteen -8).
Lufthansa’s 747-400 aircraft haven’t flown since mid-June. Given the mean fleet age of 21 years, there is a possibility that Lufthansa will retire the -400 variant after COVID-19 in favour of a smaller -8 fleet.
Because Lufthansa operates such a large 747-8 fleet, some have been grounded and some have continued to fly. In terms of international services, some of Lufthansa’s -8 aircraft have continued to fly from Frankfurt regularly. Destinations have included Los Angeles, São Paulo, Nanjing, Chicago, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg, amongst others.
Tehran-based Mahan Air has been operating their sole 747-400 on domestic routes since September 2019. The 31-year-old aircraft has been chugging between Tehran and Mashhad, with occasional services to the Iranian resort of Kish Island.
Since Mahan Air retired its classic 747-300, it remains unclear what the future for this single -400 aircraft is.
Rossiya, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, operates nine 747-400s with a mean fleet age of 20 years. Despite having four different passenger configurations, each has 12 Business Class seats in a different position.
The airline makes heavy use of their 747s, with each aircraft operating regular domestic flights around Russia every day. These aircraft frequently operated on flights around Europe prior to COVID-19, however these have since stopped. Flightradar24 data has shown that one 747 flew to Bali Denpasar on 13th June.
Thai Airways, the flag carrier of Thailand, operates eight 747-400 aircraft. None of the 747s have flown since late-March, casting doubt over the operational future of the aircraft. With a mean fleet age of 21 years, these aircraft may never return to service as part of a restructuring process that the airline has begun.
Thai’s 747s normally operate on a variety of international and domestic routes. The aircraft often fly to Sydney and on short hops to Phuket.
Launching Sam’s New Book – Air747
I am delighted to announce the launching of my fourth book; Air747. The book series Air was born out of passion and devotion to aviation. This, the fourth, is dedicated to one plane, where the love started. The Boeing 747. You can order one here. The new book will be ready to ship on 15th September.