The Closure of the Dynasty Jumbo Jet Era
In the last 2 years of the pandemic, the world had to bear witness the end of the iconic era of the Boeing 747-400 for many major airlines likes British Airways and Qantas. Another airline that saw the retirement of their 747-400 passenger aircraft was China Airlines, with the last commercial flight on March 20, 2021 onboard B-18215 on a scenic flight-to-nowhere. With the official retirement of the 747-400, the only 747s left operating in China Airlines are their fleet of 747-400Fs that serve the major cargo hubs like Anchorage and Singapore. Unfortunately, the aging 747-400Fs are now up against the more efficient Boeing 777F and the upcoming A350Fs, and China Airlines has planned for the retirement of their 747 freighters to begin in 2025. However, recent developments are pointing to an accelerated plan to retire the Queen for China Airlines after 24 years of service.
In early January, China Airlines released in its filing that its board of directors has voted to cut average service life of its 747-400F fleet by one year from 25 to 24 years. This means that the national carrier of Taiwan will start seeing the retirement of her cargo Queens as early as 2024 (B-18701), with the last slated to retire at approximately 2030 (B-18723). While this is indeed sad news for the fans of the Queen of the Skies, this is all but part of a process of constant renewal and rejuvenation of the aging fleets of China Airlines. In fact, the same filing also pointed towards an early retirement for her venerable fleet of A330-300s, which have served the airlines for many regional and medium haul routes.
What it means for plane spotters in Singapore?
The Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 747-400Fs of China Airlines have been frequent visitors to the Little Red Dot, serving the busy route between Taipei and Singapore with up to 5 flights a day. With the retirement of both aircraft types, it is likely that gradually growing void will be stepped up by Airbus A350s and Boeing 777Fs. In fact, both have been seen operating some flights traditionally served by the A330 and the Boeing 747s. Over the next few years, it is likely that Dynasty will be varying more between the 4 different aircraft types, giving aviation spotters a much larger array of targets to capture in the months to come.