KLM has decided to anticipate the retirement of its last 10 Boeing 747-400. Before planned for the beginning of 2021, the withdrawal of these aircraft will occur until April, as the airline informed the website Up in the Sky.

The reason is the same that made American Airlines plan to withdraw its 757 and 767 jets earlier than planned, the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused passenger air traffic to collapse in recent weeks.

With 408 seats, the Jumbo was “even bigger” with the current demand, which does not justify its high operating costs. With an average age of 21, these planes are being gradually replaced by Dreamliners, more efficient twin engines whose largest version, the 787-10, can carry 344 passengers in three classes of service.

The early retirement of the 747 will prevent the aircraft from completing 50 years in service at KLM. The Dutch airline received its first Jumbo in January 1971 and operated 36 other planes in addition to the 10 that are active, including the 747-200, 747-300 and 747-400 models. The company planned to hold farewell events for the iconic jet that will certainly not find a favorable climate at this time.

A curiosity about KLM’s Jumbos is that the airline decided to extend the upper deck of ten of its 747-200s in the 1980s to offer the same space as the 747-300. The modification was carried out by Boeing itself in a process called SUD (Stretched Upper Deck). Only KLM and JAL made this costly change to their jets.

Ten of KLM’s Boeing 747-200s underwent a modification that extended their upper deck in the 1980s and was named SUD

Threatened giants

The retirement of the large passenger four-engine aircraft has been a trend for years, but has intensified in recent times. Currently, few airlines in the world still operate the 747 on passenger flights, such as British Airways, Korean Air and Lufthansa.

The German airline, however, would have preferred to land its 14 Airbus A380s for a limited period in its strategy to reduce its international capacity due to the epidemic’s outbreak. Lufhtansa also has 34 Jumbo units, 13 of the 747-400 variant and 19 of the most recent model, the 747-8.

Speaking of A380, several other airlines have taken the world’s largest commercial jet out of service, but temporarily for now.

Boeing 787-10 from KLM: with 344 seats, twin engine is much more economical than Jumbo (Adam Moreira)