AMSTERDAM SCHIPHOL, NETHERLANDS – Today is a very sad day in KLM’s 100-year history and for aviation history in general as KLM will say goodbye today to the most beautiful airliner ever made – the iconic KLM Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, also known as the Queen of the skies. The City of Tokyo will touchdown at Amsterdam Schiphol for the last time ever, much earlier than planned. The Boeing 747 would initially fly for the Dutch national carrier KLM until May 2021 and retire after 50 years of service. But due to the ongoing corona crisis KLM is going to speed up the 747’s retirement from its fleet, a KLM spokesperson said to luchtvaartnieuws on March 13.
KLM Flight KL686 will be the last KLM flight ever. The Boeing 747-406(M) City of Tokyo with registration PH-BFT took off on Saturday evening from Mexico City at 3:12 UTC (7:12 PM local time) and will arrive at 13:20 UTC (3:20 PM local time) at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The City of Tokyo was manufactured at the Boeing Everett Factory, was delivered to KLM in May 1997 and served for KLM nearly 23 years.
Sad goodbye for spotters
Due to fear of a large influx of plane spotters who want to see KLM’s last Boeing 747 land, unfortunately the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Military Police Corps), the local Police Department and the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer will enforce strict rules at all spotter spots around Schiphol on Sunday, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. People are advised not to come to the airport, resulting in many emotional comments on social media today.
For many sad spotters it is good to know that there will be a live stream of the last landing on local news station NH Nieuws‘ YouTube channel NH Airtime.
KLM decided to officially retire the legendary 747 on March 30, 2020. Originally, the 747 would remain in service until May 2021.
The coronavirus has impacted aviation worldwide and many airlines – like KLM – are forced to take drastic measures to survive this corona outbreak. A lot of flights are canceled and there is a significant decrease of booked flights, including a lot of long-haul flights, operated by the 747 to Asia, South America and the U.S. Especially the U.S. flight ban is forcing KLM to retire the remaining Boeing 747-400s from its fleet 1 year sooner.
As a result, the coronavirus brings an ill-fated end to the Boeing 747 era. The iconic type has been flying around the world in various variants for KLM since 1971. The first generation of KLM 747’s were replaced by the current 747-400 from 1989.
Hard time for KLM
“Sad”, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said on Dutch television during WNL Op Zondag, this morning. The CEO emphasized once again that KLM actually wanted to continue using the aircraft until 2021.
To the grief of all of the remaining KLM 747 pilots, their beloved Queen of the skies’ amazing story will end today for KLM, resulting in some of the 747 pilots retiring earlier than planned. At the same time there is an awareness among the pilots that this is a necessary step KLM has to take to survive, due to the massive impact of the coronavirus outbreak worldwide.
The past weeks the last 747 Jumbo Jets were flying their last flights to Curaçao, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Paramaribo and Toronto, in particular to repatriate stranded travelers or fly foreign passengers back to their home countries.
After the Boeing 747-400 has been phased out, KLM will continue to operate cargo flights with the Boeing 747-400F.
The past years KLM already has operated the more efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner on long-haul flights, and the Dreamliner will now replace the Queen of the Skies, together with the Boeing 777.
End of an era in aviation history
A unique era in aviation history has ended, as the most beautiful passenger aircraft ever built – painted in its stunning KLM royal blue livery and flying for the oldest airline in the world – will touch down for the very last time.
Farewell KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet!
You were my favorite airliner ever, and as long as I have lived my live here in The Netherlands, you were a part of my life and I will miss you – beautiful Queen of the skies!
(Head photo: © Jerry Taha)
Jerry Taha is the Founder, Chief Editor, and main contributor of flyhigh.news. He has written for avgeekery.com and luchtvaartnieuws.nl. Jerry is a passionate author, photographer, videographer, and YouTube creator. He lives south east of Amsterdam, Netherlands. In addition to his love for aviation, he also loves cars, traveling, being in nature, and he is an Ajax Amsterdam fan.
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