Korea retires its final Boeing 747, the jumbo jet that popularized air travel in the country

Posted on : 2024-03-26 16:54 KST Modified on : 2024-03-26 16:54 KST
Korean Air previously retired the model in 2020, with Asiana following suit
A B747-400, operated by Asiana Airlines. (courtesy of Asiana)
A B747-400, operated by Asiana Airlines. (courtesy of Asiana)

The Boeing 747, once a symbol of jumbo jet aviation, was retired from the South Korean skies following a final flight on Monday.

The B747-400 model in question was introduced by Asiana Airlines in June 1999. The long-range, wide-body airliner includes 34 seats in business class and 364 in economy.

Remembered by countless travelers over its 25 years and nine months in service, the aircraft took its final flight departing from Taipei at 1:20 pm on Monday and arriving in Incheon at 4:35 pm.

In its first year in service, the aircraft was used for the route between Gimpo and New York. In the years since, it has made a total of 18,139 journeys and logged 96,986 hours in the air. The collective travel distance was 88 million kilometers — equivalent to 2,500 trips around the globe.

Among Asiana’s fleet, the model was most often called upon to perform “Code One” duties as the exclusive presidential aircraft.

Asiana planned to hold retirement ceremonies at both the departure site of Taoyuan International Airport and the arrival site of Incheon International Airport. At Incheon, the final flight was commemorated with two fire trucks spraying jets of water over the fuselage to coincide with its arrival.

Popularly known as the “Queen of the Skies,” the B747 jumbo jet was also instrumental in the popularization of air travel in South Korea. The last flight on Monday was fully booked with passengers joining the B747 on its farewell journey.

While the world’s major airlines have been retiring the model in recent years, some overseas carriers continue to operate it.

Asiana explained that it was “ending [the model’s] operation because of aging and wear and because of the introduction of next-generation models.”

Korean Air previously retired the model in 2020.

“It’s sad to think we’ll no longer be flying Boeing 747-400 passenger planes,” lamented Capt. Kim Jae-ho of Asiana Airlines, who became the last pilot to fly the B747. “I want to thank all of the passengers who joined us on one last flight.”

Asiana said that it plans to “further elevate passenger comfort” with its latest aircraft, the A350, A321neo and others. 

By Hong Dae-sun, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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