On August 13, 2014 Cathay Pacific Airways celebrated its last 747 flight of any sort to North America. This is an iconic moment, as Cathay Pacific has been flying the 747 to North America, starting with San Francisco, since 1986. That’s 28 years of daily 747s. Cathay itself has been in the commercial 747 business since August 3, 1979. The actual last 747 flight to San Francisco will take place on August 31.
Cathay was not going to let this event pass without fanfare. At San Francisco Airport, they hosted a luncheon to celebrate the 747’s service in Cathay’s fleet.
The aircraft has been replaced by Cathay’s growing fleet of 777-367/ERs which also feature their award-winning version of the Zodiac Cirrus seat.
Cathay still operates the 747-400 on Asian routes, such as to Ngurah Rai airport in Indonesia on Mondays, so you can catch one if you are feeling nostalgic.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts, as Cathay’s 747s exit the fleet, they go on to Bruntingthorpe, United Kingdom (a burgeoning scrapman’s haven). These aircraft are all relatively high-cycle and sometimes that’s just how things go.
Some have heralded Cathay’s 747 exit as the end of 747 operations in America. End of my favorite, yes – but the era has not ended yet. Out of San Francisco alone, United Airlines operates swathes of routes. British Airways still operates the 747 to North America, and so too does Lufthansa. It will be a sad day when the last 747-400 concludes its passenger service, but we are probably a decade away from that. Either way, I’ll be there.