Last Boeing 747 ever made will fly for a Swiss company
In a very sad moment for aviation fans, 54 years after its launch, the last Boeing 747 ever built rolled off the production line and was delivered to Atlas Air after a ceremony on January 31. Now, it has been confirmed that the youngest “queen of the sky” will be flying for a Swiss international company.
The world says goodbye to the Boeing 747
The first ever Boeing 747 took to the skies on February 9, 1969. Its first commercial flight came with Pan American Lines on January 15, 1970, with the plane being christened at a ceremony by US First Lady Pat Nixon. Famous for its double-decker design, the plane was at one time the largest commercial airliner in the world and the first to be called the “queen of the skies” and a “jumbo jet.”
The plane was a hit among all major airlines, including those flying out of Swiss airports. Swissair, the predecessor of SWISS, owned seven 747s between 1971 and the company's bankruptcy in 2000.
Rising fuel costs spelt the end of the 747
However, rising fuel costs and a series of declines in passenger numbers (especially after the September 11 attacks) meant that huge airliners were not as profitable or as efficient as their newer counterparts and were only successful on high-demand routes. The release of the Airbus A380, the current largest airliner in the world, also introduced competition that the now 54-year-old design couldn’t cope with.
Gradually, the 747 was retired from commercial flights, although entrepreneurs have still seen its potential as a cargo plane. Today, only German airline Lufthansa still runs the planes as passenger aircraft, although these will soon be replaced as well. In 2020, Boeing announced that they would no longer be building any new 747s.
The last plane built of its class, named “Empower”, was handed to Atlas Air on January 31 and took to the skies in a ceremony where the plane wrote its own name in the sky. Later it was confirmed that Swiss international company Kühne+Nagel, from Canton Schwyz, will control the plane in the “long term”. The aircraft will mainly serve transpacific routes.
Thumb image credit: Shutterstock.com / Suparat Chairatprasert