DALLAS — The Boeing 747 is arguably the most illustrious passenger aircraft ever produced. It is one of the most recognizable commercial aircraft in the world, thanks to the recognizable hump on the front of the fuselage.
As time went on, Boeing 747 variants were gradually taken out of service, leaving only a small number in use for commercial passenger transport. Older versions, on the other hand, have been moved to cargo operations.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden drop in air travel demand forced airlines to retire the type from service early in 2020, leaving only a few carriers still operating the Boeing 747 across the globe. The pandemic was the biggest blow to the Jumbo Jet.
In this article, we’ll look at the passenger airlines that will still operate the Boeing 747 in 2023 and the likelihood that we’ll get to fly on the legacy aircraft next year.
Chinese flag carrier Air China (CA) is the only passenger Boeing 747 operator in Chinese history. The airline still owns a small fleet of 10 jumbo jets: three Boeing 747-400 and seven Boeing 747-8 aircraft.
However, the majority of the fleet is currently grounded or is destined to fly government officials internationally from the country’s capital. A Boeing 747-8 with the registration B-2479 was delivered to the carrier in 2014 and is outfitted with a VIP interior to transport the head of state of that nation.
Registrations B-2445 and B-2447 are two Boeing 747-400P variants, where the “P” stands for “Presidential.” These two units are unique in that, upon request from any delegation or PRC government official, they can be converted from passenger to VIP configuration.
Air China currently operates a single Boeing 747 in commercial passenger service. It has the registration B-2487 and is exclusively used for flight CA1327 from Beijing (PEK) to Guangzhou (CAN), which is an airbridge connecting two of the largest population centers in China.
Awaiting the potential merger of the two largest airlines in South Korea, Asiana Airlines (OZ) still operates its own routes. One is the shortest Boeing 747 flight in the world as of October 2022.
This hour-and-a-half connection operates every Tuesday between the capital city of South Korea, Seoul (ICN), and the Chinese city of Changchun (CGQ). This flight is run by the sole airline’s Boeing 747-400, still in full passenger configuration, and it is a part of the 16-destination network OZ provides to Northeast Asia.
The aircraft, registered as HL7428, has been owned by OZ since the beginning of its operational life in 1999 and is configured in a 398-passenger configuration, including Economy, Business, and First Class seats.
Asiana Airlines operates a total fleet of 11 Boeing 747 aircraft. Four of the units are dedicated freighters, while the remaining seven have gradually been converted over the past 20 years to allow for freighter operations.
All OZ Boeing 747s remain in commercial service today.
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Featured image: Lufthansa D-ABTK Boeing 747-400. Photo: Otto Kirchof/Airways