Flight to Germany on Large Jet

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by Masboroughlad, 24 Jul 2018.

  1. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I saw a KLM 747 on an LHR-AMS flight some time ago - there had been a cancellation so perhaps it was rostered in to carry two planeloads.
     
  2. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Your conclusion is (surely) correct. However wide-bodies were formerly a little more common than today. In particular as convenient add-ons to long haul flights when no smaller aircraft could be reliably scheduled. I once had a 747 from Denver to LA: its next flight was to Auckland while I was connecting to Australia. In more general terms it's been realised that the 747 was in fact too large an aircraft for many markets but for so long it was the only aircraft type with sufficient range for many routes, eg Europe to West Coast or non-stop Trans-Pacific. The 777-300 changed all that so US airlines have little need for 747s today. And the 787 and 350 will further reduce the usefulness of the 747 such that it is fast becoming a niche aircraft type for passenger service.
     
  3. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    Yes, and I think the same conversation is being had about the A380 as well.

    Which is a shame as the 747 is a sight to behold.
     
  4. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    And sound!
     
  5. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    Very true!

    I'm travelling on the 747 combi in a few weeks time with KLM. I've done the regular 747 for probably the last time, and now the combi!
     
  6. gsnedders

    gsnedders Established Member

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    I'm sad I've never managed the combi (nor, I think, any Classic, but I'm not sure what I flew on to/from the US aged 4, though given the routes I suspect not!), and probably never will at this point… Probably can't justify a trip just to do it!
     
  7. atillathehunn

    atillathehunn Established Member

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    Probably not a trip just for the equipment, but you can be creative in choosing your destinations or process of getting there without giving the game away. I'm fortunate in that two airlines regularly send them to a common destination for me. One airline is the one my boss likes, and the other is often the cheapest so it's win-win.
     
  8. gsnedders

    gsnedders Established Member

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    Almost all my long-haul trips are for work (literally only two not in my life!), so it'd probably have to be taking a somewhat silly route to get somewhere (probably in the US, though with the increased difficulty of getting visas in recent years meetings are increasingly moved elsewhere).
     
  9. wastedlife

    wastedlife Member

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    No US airline has been operating the B747 in passenger service since January and it is many years since its use was widespread - it was decades before the B77W came along in 2004 that smaller aircraft with the range of the B744 were available. Airlines were flying Europe to West Coast with the L1011 and DC-10 in the 1980s if not the 1970s, and ER versions of the B767 were available from the mid 1980s. In the 1990s, the A340/330 and B772 (and especially ETOPS) completely cannibalised potential orders for the B744 as a replacement for Classics. Continental never took the B744 and I think had got rid of all their Classics before taking the B772 in 1999; American built their network on the B767/A300/DC-10/MD-11 and only ever operated the B741 for a relatively short time - I think they had got rid by 1991. United had a large fleet of B744s, but they retired all of them by late 2017; which left only Delta with I think legacy Northwest Airlines B744s, the last of which was retired in January. TWA had got rid of their superannuated Classics before being bought by AA. I think Tower Air were probably the last operator flying the B747 domestically within the US when they collapsed in 2000. So US airlines have had little need for the B747 for several decades now.

    Other former large operators, for example, JAL, AF have retired their fleets within the last decade. Really, the B747 is already a niche aircraft - if you still want to fly one then BA or Lufthansa are the easiest place to look. Neither B787 nor A350 is aimed at replacing the B747; the B787 is aimed really at the B767/A330 and the A350's sweet spot is the B772/77W (in each case, depending on the variant) but it's based on improving the economics of those aircraft rather than replacing the range of the B744.
     
  10. gsnedders

    gsnedders Established Member

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    And if you want to fly the B748, you have a choice of Lufthansa (19), Korean Air (10), or Air China (7). Except for VIP aircraft, that's literally all the passenger B748 that have been ordered (and delivered, as it happens).

    Fundamentally, the cost per seat is lower for all the twins, so assuming airport slot costs don't rise too high, it's more economical to fly two smaller aircraft than one huge one, and if you're trying to get as many people on one plane as possible because slot costs are a concern then you're better off with an A380 than a 747-8.
     
  11. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Interesting post but one which ignores a number of points.

    Firstly the earliest significant operator of the B747 was Pan Am who needed their range for Trans-Pacific routes but fleet commonality meant they were also used across the Atlantic. After their demise United's operations followed a similar pattern. There were also the smaller deregulation airlines such as Braniff International and People Express that also used B747s. And I would argue that it was actually the collapse in US passenger confidence after 9/11 that marked the beginning of the end for the B747 even in advance of the B777-300ER entering service.

    Secondly the tri-jets were themselves rather niche models for longer range operations due to being somewhat thirsty on fuel. Indeed the true long-range versions sold in relatively small numbers compared to the shorter-range models once so commonly used on US trans-cons.

    Thirdly it was engine technology which allowed ETOPS ranges to be extended. The B767 was well into its production run before ETOPS allowed the full benefit of its range to be realised and of course the A330 would have sold far fewer examples without it.

    Fourthly the B787 is indeed being used on routes that even the B747 would have struggled to operate profitably (ie with a viable payload), in particular Qantas' Perth-Heathrow non-stop which is apparently a financial success. It may be that the A350/B787 were not specifically designed as B747 replacements but nevertheless their economics are leading some airlines to use them in exactly that way.

    Essentially as far fewer airlines operate for any reasons related to prestige and economics is the key to fleet constitution so individual airliner models are being applied to quite specific tasks and this is squeezing the B747 out from everyday passenger operations. But if such thinking had been more prevalent 30 years ago it is likely that rather fewer B747's, especially the -400, would have been built, especially if US airlines had been less chauvinistic (at the time) about from where they sourced their aircraft.

    There is of course a significant outlier: Emirates. Their business model is such that they have been able to justify a large fleet of A380s even though it is doubtful that many of their routes would justify so large an aircraft if the routes were free-standing. But it works very well in feeding their huge Dubai hub.
     
  12. wastedlife

    wastedlife Member

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    My whole point is that the beginning of the end for the 744 came years before 9/11, and that it has already been for a long time a niche aircraft with only a handful operators that retain 747s in any great number. On 9/11, of the US airlines I think only pre-merger United and Northwest Airlines still had any 747s in their fleets. 9/11 certainly accelerated the retirement of 742s - BA's last revenue flight was less than a month after and Virgin and Northwest got rid by about 2005-6 iirc - but equally it was an industry wide shock that led to a load of groundings of all types of aircraft. Ultimately it was the oil price hike of the last decade that encouraged the likes of JAL/Cathay to get rid of their large fleets of 744s - the extent to which 9/11 drove that price hike is arguable.

    Airlines had spent the 90s increasingly going with two engines for long haul and whatever the characteristics of tri-jets fuel burn, they had been used to do long haul before ETOPS where the 747's capacity wasn't needed. So you can say that whereas in 1970, the 741 was the only aircraft capable of the range or the capacity to go trans-Atlantic, the 772, 332/3, 762/3/4 and A340 all increasingly cannibalised potential 747 orders in increasing numbers from the 70s onwards for differing reasons - I'm not sure what's controversial about that statement. The 77W equalled the 744 in both range and (more or less) capacity, and by 2004/5 when it became obvious just how good it was (and how much better than the A346 it was), the 744/748 (and A346) were killed stone dead. The 744/8 are already in niches of freight, Qantas having -ER versions, Korean and LH having ordered the -8 pax and BA running down a large legacy fleet while oil is cheap relative to the recent past, increasingly on high yield shorter routes.
     
  13. Crawley Ben

    Crawley Ben Member

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    You would be correct, (can't remember off the to of my head the number of flights per week) but know it's from Kigali via Brussels (believe it operates this way both ways)

    Cheers

    Ben
     
  14. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    I think it would be fair to say that between us we have illustrated that the hey-day of the 747 was many years ago. Of course that doesn't stop aviation fans, especially Americans, from calling it the "Queen of the Skies", often accompanied by the pouring of scorn on the capabilities of the 380.

    Coming somewhat nearer the point of this thread is news that BA's 767 fleet is near to complete retirement. Now only 5 examples left with a summary of their remaining schedules here: https://www.routesonline.com/news/3...boeing-767-service-in-nov-2018/?highlight=767. Of note is that for the last 19 days only a single round trip to Larnaca is scheduled though 2 aircraft will still be available meaning it might be possible for the back-up to appear on one or other of the current flight schedules. However 25th November is planned to be the last day. As usual anyone wanting specific details about individual aircraft will find http://thebasource.com/ useful.
     

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