The recent announcement that Boeing will cease production of the 747 follows news that numerous airlines would be bringing forward the retirement of their 747 fleets due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. British Airways, Qantas, KLM and Virgin Atlantic have all either retired their fleets, or plan to do so ahead of pre-COVID-19 schedules. Boeing realigning to shed an increasingly redundant wide-body product and focus on narrow-body aircraft such as the 737, as well as more efficient wide-body offerings such as the 777X will allow the company to conform with the post-COVID-19 market, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Harry Boneham, Aerospace and Defense Associate Analyst at GlobalData comments: “Demand for large, long-haul aircraft will recover more slowly that short haul aircraft, following the trend observed following previous crises such as the 2008 recession. With the addition of rising climate consciousness and demand for efficiency, the 747 cannot compete with newer, more efficient designs and aircraft more suited to the post-COVID-19 market.”
According to Boeing, the 747 currently accounts for 0.26% of Boeing’s backlog, and there are currently 15 unfilled orders for 747s outstanding; 12 for UPS, and 3 for Volga-Dnepr UK. Both companies would operate the aircraft in air freight roles, and production of these aircraft is anticipated by the end of 2022.
According to GlobalData’s Global Commercial Fixed-Wing Aircraft Datapack 2020-2030, as of June 2020 the 747 accounts for 20.5% of cargo aircraft, and 1.1% of commercial fixed wing aircraft contracted in 2020.