Asiana Airlines To Retire Last Passenger 747 In Late March

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Another one bites the dust.

If you haven’t heard the news already, there will be one less 747 passenger operator before the end of March 2024. Asiana Airlines will retire its last Boeing 747-400 passenger jet on March 25, 2024, with farewell plans before organized for its final mission.

Well before the pandemic, Asiana already had plans to retire its 747s. According to their records, they operated a total of three 747-400s and six 747-400 Combis (combined passenger and cargo configured 747s) over its life time. All of its combis were converted to dedicated freighters while two of the three regular 747s were scrapped.

The last, registered HL7428, was carded to leave the fleet in 2021, but stayed on much longer, operating various missions across Asia. For the month of March, the aircraft operated a daily flight between Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) and Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) as flights OZ711 and OZ712.

The last flight

Credit: byeangel/Flickr | CC BY 2.0 Generic

On March 25, 2024, HL7428 will take to the skies for its final pair of flights, operating its usual run between Seoul and Taipei with the same flight numbers OZ711 and OZ712.

To celebrate the occasion, the carrier is selling seats on these last two flight at a 30% discount. While most seats have already sold out, there are still a few available for purchase on both legs via their website.

A few more passenger 747s remain

Once Asiana retires this 747, there will be a few more scheduled operators remaining including Lufthansa, Air China and Korean Air. Based on their business models, these 747s will live on for quite some time before being retired. Mahan Air also operates a single 747-400, but we have no info as to how long this aircraft will stay in its fleet.

Atlas Air also operates passenger 747 jets, but of course this is strictly on a charter basis, doing work for various government and private organizations.

Asiana Airlines to merge with Korean Air

In late 2020, it was announced that South Korea’s two biggest carriers Korean Air and Asiana Airlines would begin the process of merging into one big brand. However this was delayed as various foreign agencies had not given approval citing antitrust concerns.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks came when the U.S. Department of Justice blocked the merger in May 2023. In response to this, Asiana later agreed to divest its cargo division in an attempt to gain regulatory approval.

Even though things looked grim for the merger, the two companies have slowly won the approval from more agencies, with a huge win coming after the European Commission gave the green light in February 2024.

With 13 of 14 approvals already inside, Korean Air now has to put all its efforts to convince the United States to reconsider its position.

If the merger were to go through, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air would merge into one brand, with the Asiana Airlines brand being dissolved. Besides the gargantuan task of streamlining operations, the new entity will dump its combined Airbus A380s in 2026, with Korean’s Boeing 747-8is expected to be retired in 2031.

The merger will also result in three low-cost subsidiaries (Jin Air, Air Busan and Air Seoul) being merged into one larger low-cost brand.

Featured image: 湯小沅/Flickr | Public Domain Mark 1.0

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