Thai Airways Bids Farewell to Iconic Boeing 747

BANGKOK — Thai Airways International, trading as THAI, officially retired its Boeing 747-400 fleet after years of operating the iconic “Queen of the Sky.” The airline now held a poignant farewell ceremony at its hangar at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), bidding adieu to the legendary jumbo jet.

The Boeing 747 Legacy

The Boeing 747-400, with its distinctive humpbacked design, has been a symbol of aviation excellence for over two decades. THAI operated a total of 18 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, along with two Boeing 747-400 Boeing converted freighters (BCF). These majestic planes graced the skies, connecting continents and leaving an indelible mark on the history of commercial aviation.

The Phased Retirement

THAI began its restructuring process in 2020, selling off non-core assets, including unused aircraft. The pandemic further accelerated the retirement of the Boeing 747-400s. Most of these aircraft were phased out in two waves: between March 2012 and December 2013, and between June 2021 and September 2023. Six and ten aircraft of this type were gracefully retired from the carrier’s fleet during these periods, respectively.

The Surplus and Farewell

As the aviation industry gradually recuperated post-pandemic, the Boeing 747 became surplus to THAI’s needs. The decision to bid farewell to this aviation icon was both nostalgic and pragmatic. The airline invited its community to share cherished memories of the Boeing 747, affectionately known as the “Queen of the Sky” on social media platforms. A poignant picture of a Boeing 747-400 standing in the hangar without its engines accompanied the announcement.

The Fate of THAI’s 747-400s

The fate of THAI’s Boeing 747-400s varied. Some were repurposed, while others found new roles. For instance:

  • HS-TGY: Retired in September 2023, it now serves as a coffee shop at U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport (UTP), Thailand.
  • HS-TGA, HS-TGM, HS-TGK, and HS-TGN: These aircraft were scrapped either at BKK or Mojave Air & Space Port (MHV).
  • HS-TGH: The airline’s first-ever Boeing 747-400, it was converted to a freighter in May 2012 and phased out in February 2021. It now flies with Romania-based Rom Cargo Airlines.
  • HS-TGL: Another Boeing 747-400 is stored at MHV, while the remaining aircraft are either stored at BKK or UTP. Exceptions include the freighters HS-TGH and HS-TGJ, which continue their service in their new roles.
Its legacy lives on

The Boeing 747-400 era at THAI has come to an end, but its legacy lives on. As the sun set on these magnificent aircraft, aviation enthusiasts around the world joined in bidding farewell to the “Queen of the Skies.” THAI remains committed to modernizing its fleet, embracing new technologies, and continuing to connect people across borders. (zai) – Photo: Thai Airways