Qantas to introduce the Boeing 787 on SA route – replacing the 747

Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, has announced that it has accelerated the retirement of its last six Boeing 747s after ordering six additional Boeing 787-9s to fly on its international network – which includes the route between Sydney and Johannesburg.

In a statement released on Wednesday (2 May), the airline said that the 747 had been in its fleet in various forms since 1971, and that the retirement process was an end of an era for the airline.

“The jumbo has been the backbone of Qantas International for more than 40 years and we’ve flown almost every type that Boeing built. It’s fitting that its retirement is going to coincide with our centenary in 2020,” Qantas said.

The group said that the new 787 ‘Dreamliners’ would take over the legacy.

“The 787 has better economics and a longer range, and its already opened up new routes like Perth to London. With a larger fleet of Dreamliners, we’ll be looking at destinations in the Americas, Asia, South Africa and Europe,” it said.

Qantas added that the interiors of the additional 787s will feature the same configuration as the existing aircraft, although the Dreamliners will carry fewer passengers (236 seats vs 364) with a greater focus on business and premium economy seating.

“However, the reduced maintenance needs of the 787, plus more efficient aircraft patterning and reduced payload restrictions on long routes, mean the actual impact on overall capacity is expected to be negligible,” the group said.

It added that there are currently 10 747-400s left in the fleet which will be steadily retired between July this year and the end of 2020. Qantas received the last of its new 747s from Boeing in 2003, which will be 17 years old at time of retirement.

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Read: ‘SAA is beyond repair’

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Qantas to introduce the Boeing 787 on SA route – replacing the 747