Home' Asian Aviation : AAV April 2012 Contents AsianAviation | APRIL 2012 37
The retirement of SIA's last Boeing 747 marks the end of an era, writes Kok Chwee Sim
KOK CHWEE SIM
Back in 1971, during the dying days of Malaysia-
Singapore Airlines (MSA), it surprised many when
the Singaporeans proceeded to order a pair of Boeing
747-200Bs. By September 1973 when both aircra
were handed over and delivered, Singapore Airlines
had been o cially launched.
One of the 747-200Bs was ying across the Paci c
Ocean with a stop in Taipei and the other was ser ving
London with a stop in Bahrain. Wave a er wave of
follow-on orders for the Jumbo Jet -- also fondly known
as the ueen of the Skies -- resulted in an impressive
list of 75 aircra which included 19 747-200Bs, 11
747-300Bs, three 747-300 Combis and 42 747-400s.
e airline even dubbed them Bigtop (747-300) and
Megatop (747-400) and in no time, travellers were
using these names even when referring to similar types
operating for other airlines.
e rst two 747-200Bs were tted with the Ra es
Lounge on their upper decks, but these were retro tted
with regular seats following the delivery of the third
aircra . roughout the 747 s ser vice with Singapore
Airlines, it has been the platform on which the airline
introduced all manners of ser vice innovations and
cabin amenities. e Slumberettes -- the rst beds in
the sky -- was just one such innovation and SIA even
had at one time live entertainment by high-energ y
performer Anita Sarawak and jackpot machines
onboard its US-bound 747s.
e arrival of the Airbus A380-800 in October
2007 and on-going delivery of more 777-300ERs
signalled the gathering pace of 747-400 retirement.
By February 2012, only three remained and the only
route still ser ved by the 747-400 is a daily Singapore-
Melbourne-Singapore rotation. e last commercial
ser vice operated by the 747-400 was on March 25
when the plane-load of passengers arrived in Singapore,
and with that, almost four decades of sterling service
and contribution to SIA s development into one of the
world s most awarded and respected airlines came to
Or not quite to an end. On April 6, which coincidentally
is Good Friday, the last 747-400 (registered 9V-SPQ)
will operate a commemorative return ight - SQ747
from Singapore to Hong Kong and SQ748 from Hong
Kong to Singapore.
is partially re-enacts the 747 s rst commercial
service on October 1, 1973 from Singapore to
Hong Kong , Taipei and Tokyo. SIA announced the
commemorative ight in February at the Singapore
Airshow and by March both legs were sold out.
For many who wanted to join the airline in paying
tribute to the ueen of the Skies, this was an historic
occasion that is both rare -- this is the rst time in SIA s
history that the retirement of an aircra type is being
celebrated -- and symbolic. It was on the 747 that SIA
ew against the face of competition from some of the
world s most powerful airlines and triumphed.
There will no doubt be plenty of stories being
exchanged onboard about past ights on the 747 and
there s plenty of time for that. SIA is extending the usual
3hr 50min ight by an hour on each leg and promised a
special dining experience as passengers in all classes will
be treated to a specially selected menu. Besides a pre-
ight party in the gate hold room, a goodie bag laden
with a variety of memorabilia including a certi cate
and a co ee-table book is also on the cards.
And when ight SQ748 nally touches down at
Changi Airport just a er sunset on April 6, a very
long and illustrious chapter will close. Over the span
of more than 38 years, SIA s passenger operations
have involved 76 747s -- including one 747-400
brie y leased from Malaysia Airlines and operated
exclusively on the Singapore-Auckland route in a
Star Alliance livery. e nal three 747-400s will all
head to Russia for ser vice with Transaero Airlines.
For many, it is hard to imagine Singapore Airlines
without a 747 Jumbo Jet in its eet. But unless an
order for the 747-8 Intercontinental materialises, that
will be the reality.
Links Archive AAV March 2012 AAV_May2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page