United Airlines will retire its last Boeing 747-400 in “late October” after nearly half a century with the carrier.
The Chicago-based carrier will “displace” its last 747 pilots on 30 October, it said in a crew resources update to pilots on 17 March. However, it does not set a date for the venerable jumbo jet’s final flight.
United will fly the 747 to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Seoul Incheon and Shanghai Pudong from its San Francisco hub during its last month in service, the update says. Scott Kirby, president of United, announced in January that the airline would retire the 747 by the fourth quarter, nearly a year earlier than planned.
“It’s a bittersweet milestone — this jumbo jet with its unmistakable silhouette once represented the state-of-the-art in air travel,” he said. “Today, there are more fuel-efficient, cost-effective and reliable widebody aircraft that provide an updated inflight experience for our customers traveling on long-haul flights.”
United is replacing its last 20 747s with 14 Boeing 777-300ERs, all of which are scheduled for delivery by the middle of 2017.
FlightGlobal schedules show the carrier operating its last 747 flight from Seoul to San Francisco on 29 October, however this could change based on aircraft availability and the 777 delivery schedule.
For example, on 15 March, United chief executive Oscar Munoz said the airline was “not happy” with possible delays to its new business class Polaris seats at supplier Zodiac Aerospace. While he did not explicitly say the seats were late, he did say United’s retrofit schedule was “dynamic” and that it was providing Zodiac with “lots of beneficial support”.
The airline has not said what the official final 747 flight will be. United took delivery of its first 747 in 1970.