United Airlines today (January 11) issued this statement to its employees:
“There’s something very special about a Boeing 747. It’s the one aircraft that even casual travelers can easily identify. And we know that the experience of traveling on one, or flying one, is unforgettable.
As deeply connected as we all are to this iconic aircraft, the time has come to retire our 747 fleet from scheduled service. Last March, we announced that this would occur by the end of 2018; now we plan to operate our last 747 flight in the fourth quarter of this year.
It’s a bittersweet milestone — this jumbo jet with its unmistakable silhouette once represented the state-of-the-art in air travel. 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.
For these reasons, we’re saying farewell to the Queen of the Skies, which has been part of our fleet since we first flew the aircraft between California and Hawaii in 1970.
We’ll be working with all of you who fly or work on the 747s to ensure a smooth transition to other fleets. Our forward-looking fleet plan will cover 747 replacements and anticipated growth opportunities. And of course, we’ll honor the 747 with an unforgettable retirement celebration — we’ll keep you posted with more details on her final flight in the months ahead.
Thank you for all that you are doing. I am so proud and excited about the great future we’re building together as we create the best airline in the world.
Scott Kirby – President, United Airlines
Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 747-422 N177UA (msn 24384) LHR (Keith Burton). Image: 910644.