End of an Era: Philippine Airlines to Retire Boeing 747

Philippine Airlines is retiring its Boeing 747-400 aircraft fleet. The second of five Boeing 747-400 in the PAL fleet slated for retirement, RP-C7472, made its way from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport on May 10 to join some of the airline's retired Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. A retirement ceremony was held on Monday, May 12 at Villamor Airbase.

pal boeing 747-400
Philippine Airlines B747-400 / Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
In spite of the retirement ceremony, some of the remaining Boeing 747 aircraft will continue flying to San Francisco five times a week for the remainder of the month. It remains unclear when the last official Boeing 747 flight for Philippine Airlines will take place. 

The Boeing 747-400 aircraft has served for nearly 21 years in the Philippine Airlines fleet. The carrier took delivery of its first Boeing 747-400 on November 19, 1993, with former President Fidel Ramos flying on board the delivery flight after concluding a visit to the United States. Prior to this, Philippine Airlines operated an older version of the Boeing 747, the 200 series, which first joined the fleet in December 1979. That aircraft made its inaugural commercial flight in 1980. The Boeing 747 has served Philippine Airlines primarily on long-haul services to the United States along with regional destinations including Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita, and Bangkok.

Philippine Airlines' modern fleet of Boeing 777-300 aircraft have been due to replace the Boeing 747-400 on flights to the mainland United States ever since the aircraft was ordered several years ago. But a downgrading of the country's aviation safety rating to Category 2 status in 2007 by the United States Federal Aviation Administration prevented the carrier from deploying the Boeing 777 fleet on US flights, postponing the Boeing 747's retirement. With the restoration of Category 1 status, Philippine Airlines was finally able to deploy its first Boeing 777 to Los Angeles on May 3 operating flight PR102. 

Four of the PAL Boeing 777 aircraft are less than two years old with the first two aircraft having been with the flag carrier for nearly four and a half years. Last year, Philippine Airlines retired the Boeing 747-400 aircraft registered RP-C8168 due to on-going maintenance problems. That aircraft is now being scrapped. The four remaining Boeing 747 aircraft in the fleet have reportedly been sold although the buyer has not been identified.

The retirement of older aircraft is part of a company plan to combat increasing costs amidst declining revenues. Switching to modern, fuel-efficient aircraft will drastically cut the airline's fuel and maintenance bills, improving profitability across the airline. Although no formal announcements have been made, it is believed that Philippine Airlines will be placing an order for additional Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to replace its retiring long-haul aircraft. 



  1. Last 747 service is on 30JUN, SFOMNL according to airlineroute.net

  2. My parents and i were on the inagural flight of pals second 200 series. At that time it was pr106 to sfo via hnl.no lax flights yet at that time. NOSTALGIC!

  3. I grew up riding the 747s of PAL. The queen made me a wanderlust. Since then, every year, I look forward on travelling with her. We did have some ups and downs *coughs otso- otso* but still, the queen is the queen. She was the aircraft that made me cross the Pacific at the age of two and made me feel good. To you, Queen of the Skies, may your new passengers value you like how we, Filipinos, valued you. Long live the queen!

  4. I love this aircraft. The best plane in the entire PAL fleet!


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