Wayfarer TV exclusive: Qantas sends off its iconic Boeing 747 in spectacular fashion

by James Wilkinson

It’s the end of an era for Qantas, with the Australian airline yesterday (July 22) operating its final Boeing 747 jumbo jet after almost 50 years in service.

Qantas operated 65 Boeing 747s over 49 years – the 747-100, 747-200, 747-Combi, 747-SP, 747-300, 747-400 and the 747-400ER – taking over 250 million passengers over 3.6 billion kilometres, the equivalent of 4,700 return trips to the moon or 90,000 times around the world.

From the airline’s first delivery in 1971 to its final service in 2020, the Boeing 747 was the greatest ever aircraft for Qantas and has a place in the hearts of millions of Australians.

In an exclusive interview to talk about the legendary Boeing 747s remarkable history, Wayfarer Editor-in-Chief and host, James Gregory Wilkinson, spoke on camera to Qantas’ Head of Fleet Operations, Captain Mike Galvin, before the final aircraft (VH-OEJ), took off for retirement in California. Click on the link below.


The ‘Queen of the Skies’ was a legendary aircraft and the 747 was loved by people the world over for her grace, style and sophistication.

The 747 was also loved for its ability to seamlessly take people further and faster than ever before.

For the travel industry across the world and particularly in Australia, the Boeing 747 helped create tourism markets by opening new routes and connecting countries that had never been directly linked.

Wayfarer host Wilkinson, who took over 600 flights on the Qantas Boeing 747 fleet, also did a guest segment on The Latest on 7 News Australia as part of a tribute to the Queen of the Skies and on that he looked at the impact the aircraft had on so many people globally. Click on the link below.


Qantas had originally scheduled the retirement of the Boeing 747-400 fleet for the end of 2020, however that was brought forward by the airline by six months after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated international travel globally.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said the 747 changed the face of Australian aviation and ushered in a new era of lower fares and non-stop flights.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact that the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia,” he said. “It replaced the 707, which was a huge leap forward in itself but didn’t have the sheer size and scale to lower airfares the way the 747 did.

“That put international travel within reach of the average Australian and people jumped at the opportunity,” Joyce said.

He said the Boeing 747 was a winner with both passengers and crew and the aircraft will be missed by passengers across the world.

“This aircraft was [also] well ahead of its time and extremely capable,” Joyce said. “Engineers and cabin crew loved working on them and pilots loved flying them. So did passengers.

“They have carved out a very special place in aviation history and I know they’ll be greatly missed by a lot of people, including me.

“Time has overtaken the 747 and we now have a much more fuel efficient aircraft with even better range in our fleet, such as the 787 Dreamliner that we use on Perth-London and hopefully before too long, the Airbus A350 for our Project Sunrise flights non-stop to New York and London,” Joyce said.