Boeing’s 747, also known as the ‘Jumbo jet’, the world’s first wide bodied aircraft will no longer be made after almost 50years since its launch. What led to Boeing ceasing to manufacture the aircraft which was meant to disrupt the airline industry?
“Those first jumbos typically carried 366 passengers, compared with around 200 on the Boeing 707s that flew the transatlantic route in the 1960s. That gave carriers a better chance of turning a profit in the face of these constraints. But their size would also prove to be a burden. When the oil shock struck in the mid-1970s, the gas-guzzling, four-engined beasts were a factor in airlines’ crippling losses—not least because the recession meant it was more difficult to fill its seats.”
The deregulation of America’s aviation market resulting in the hub and spoke model created a space for the 747 to haul large traffic to the hubs:
“In 1978 America deregulated its aviation market, the world’s biggest. That prompted airlines to develop the “hub-and-spoke” business model. With fewer limitations on which routes they could operate, carriers could fly huge aircraft to their home airports, before decanting passengers onto smaller planes that took them to their final destination; this changed both domestic and international air travel. That allowed operators to serve more airports with fewer planes. The more customers that could be squeezed onto the hub-bound flights, the better. That was a boon for what was then the world’s largest passenger plane. To secure its place in this system, in 1988 Boeing launched the 747-400, which could fly up to 8,354 miles (13,450 km) non-stop, around 650 miles more than its predecessor, the 747-300. It typically carried 416 passengers.”
…only to be disrupted by competition :
“During the 2000s competition squeezed Boeing’s jumbo. In 2007 Airbus, the American firm’s great European rival, launched the A380. This double-decker giant remains the largest passenger plane ever made, with up to 615 seats. For carriers whose prime interest was funnelling huge numbers of people through their hubs, it became the aircraft of choice. A new breed of “super-connector” airlines, such as Emirates and Qatar, built their business models around them. Emirates operates 118 A380s and no 747s. More recently, carriers have been lured by new ultra-long-range, super-efficient planes such as Airbus’s A350 and Boeing’s own 777. These carry almost as many passengers as Boeing’s jumbo, but have just two engines, making it economically viable to fly more point-to-point long-distance routes. The 747 could not survive this competitive pincer. An ailing Queen of the Skies was already on her deathbed when the pandemic killed her off.”

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