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Airlines retiring 747-400s as fuel costs mount


Several airlines are planning to retire all of their 747-400 aircraft in the coming years as fuel costs rise and newer planes offer advantages in fuel efficiency and range. Boeing stopped producing the 747-400 in 2009, 20 years after that variant first rolled off the line. And while there are still about 400 of the heavy jets flying, a growing number are being mothballed or sold for spare parts. Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines have park all of their 747-400s for good, an ignominious end to what was once the largest passenger plane in the skies. Several other airlines, like Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Qantas, are shedding the 747-400 as they take delivery of the Airbus A380 and new long-range Boeing 777s. While the A380 uses more fuel than the 747-400, it can also carry 100 or more passengers, lowering the cost per passenger for airlines.  The newest 747-8, which recently started rolling off Boeing’s production line, has just over 100 orders, the vast majority of which are for freighter versions that will never carry revenue passengers. It’s part of a growing trend of airlines favoring much more efficient planes, like the 777, for long-haul routes, or using smaller long-range aircraft like the Boeing 787.