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Champagne for passengers as Air New Zealand's 747 makes final flight

Passengers on the last flight for Air New Zealand's largest and probably most distinctive aircraft, the 747 jumbo jet, received the star treatment.

Passengers were given cupcakes in the departure lounge in San Francisco before the airline's 747-400 took off for the final time yesterday afternoon.

They were then treated to a champagne breakfast as the plane journeyed into Auckland.

The touchdown at Auckland Airport this morning marked the retirement of the carrier's fleet of jumbos, which have become relatively expensive to operate, after 33 years of service.

In flight, they listened as the cabin crew and pilots shared their memories of the flight over the PA system.

One English plane spotter, Gary Fox, had flown from London to be on the flight.

He wore an embroidered polo-shirt, designed by himself, to commemorate the occasion, and also carried a specially designed mobile phone cover, also detailing the flight.

The twin-decked jumbo jet, nicknamed the 'Queen of the Skies', was launched in 1970 and Air New Zealand introduced its first 747 in 1981.

Air New Zealand has operated 13 since then, but the introduction of more fuel-efficient aircraft has spelled the gradual demise of the jumbo.

Air New Zealand's last remaining 747-400 was capable of carrying 379 passengers and could outpace the airline's other planes, with a cruising speed of 920 kilometres per hour.

The company will not say what it intends to do with the 16-year-old aircraft.

But, it is understood the carrier is in negotiations to sell it to another airline for continued use.

The so-called ‘Queen of the Skies’ has officially gone into retirement. Source: 1 NEWS


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