The last Qantas 747 receiving a water salute before its final departure from Sydney Airport on July 22
The plane's flight path, which was tracked online, also paid tribute to the iconic Qantas branding - marking the company's famous kangaroo icon in the skies
Dhaka: After 50 years of operations, Qantas' last remaining Boeing 747 passenger jet departed Australia for the final time on July 22 and left a special message for everyone in the sky — a drawing of the airline's iconic kangaroo logo.
The flight path of Flight QF7474 traced the logo in the sky after it took off from Sydney Airport for the US, where the jumbo jet will be retired, Australia's biggest airline said in a statement on July 22.
"This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable," Alan Joyce, Group CEO, Qantas, said in a statement. "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."
The 747 is being replaced by more fuel-efficient aircraft with better range, like the 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350, according to Joyce. While the fleet was set to be retired this year, Qantas said the pandemic decimated travel globally, which moved up the retirement by six months.
People gathered at Sydney Airport to bid farewell to the Qantas plane, which received a water salute before departure. The plane was loaded with cargo bound for Los Angeles before the aircraft goes into storage at a bone yard in the Mojave Desert, said Qantas in a press release.
Joyce said it is hard to overstate the impact the 747 had for a country like Australia. The aircraft's size helped lower airfares for a nation that is far away as Australia.
The 747 "put international travel within reach of the average Australian and people jumped at the opportunity," Joyce said.
The flight was commanded by Capt Sharelle Quinn, the airline's first female captain.
Quinn mentioned that 747s have carried more than 250 million passengers for Qantas, including a number of rescue missions for Qantas over the past 50 years. The plane brought home a record 674 passengers out of Darwin following Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and flew medical supplies in and tourists home from the Maldives and Sri Lanka following the massive tsunami in December 2004.
Most recently, it was used in February to bring hundreds of stranded Australians home from Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus pandemic began.
Qantas took delivery of its first 747 in August 1971.
Before heading out over the Pacific Ocean, Qantas said that the flight was scheduled to fly by Sydney Harbor and the HARS Museum where it will dip the wings in a final farewell to Qantas' first 747-400, which is on display there.