Japan Airlines International (JAL) has confirmed it will decommission its last two remaining Boeing 747 jumbojets, ending over 40 years of affinity with the aircraft.
Two Boeing 747s were greeted by crowds as they arrived at Narita airport late yesterday, with staff on board wearing uniforms from a bygone era.
Flight 75 had returned from Honolulu and Flight 3098 flew back from Naha in Okinawa Prefecture, as JAL became just the latest carrier to move toward newer, more fuel efficient, planes.
JAL rival ANA, for example, is set to become the launch customer of the Boeing Dreamliner when it takes to the skies later this year.
Boeing will not let the 747 depart quietly, however, with a new model – branded the 747-8 International – launched earlier this year.
In a three-class configuration, the newest 747 can seat about 470 passengers—as many as some variants of the current 777.
It is smaller than the double-decker Airbus A380, which can seat 525 or as many as 850 depending on the configuration.
JAL introduced the Boeing 747 in 1970
JAL was an early customer of the 747, receiving its aircraft in 1970.
Over the next 40 years, the airline would own and operate 112 of the planes, with approximately 80 of the jumbojets in service at the peak between 1994 and 2001.
However, JAL accelerated its plans to retire its inefficient 747s in January 2010, after the carrier entered bankruptcy protection.
The 747 had been the mainstay of the JAL long-haul fleet for newly two decades – covering largely trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights – until it was eclipsed by the 777 in the late 1990s.
Only two US carriers - United Airlines and Delta Air Lines - still fly the 747 on regular commercial service, but it is still in wide use globally.
JAL has also confirmed a codeshare with Iberia – a fellow oneworld member – as it seeks to boost its position in Europe.
The airline will now offer codeshare on flights operated by Iberia between Madrid and two destinations in Europe - London and Frankfurt.
Up until October last year, JAL offered customers a connection from Tokyo (Narita) to Madrid via Amsterdam, by placing the JL flight code on Iberia flights between Amsterdam and Madrid.
The codeshare arrangement was however suspended when JAL terminated its non-stop service to Amsterdam in October.