Introduction & Lufthansa:
From how I see it, by 2035, is when we’ll see a significant retirement rate of A380’s. I would assume that would also, possibly be a time when LH, CA and KE, contemplates on wether these aircraft are worth keeping. As LH are to in the coming 5 years or so phase out their current -400 models and replace them and the A340-600 with the brand new 777X, based in their Hub in Frankfurt along with the 747-8i, those two could be used side-by-side in a strategic way, while having the A380’s based in Munich.
As time moves forward and LH get their 787 orders along with more 777X’s, also purchase more A350’s, we are sure to see the 747-8i slowly retiring by early 2040’s, which would around the time we see a decrease in A380’s in the sky as well.
By then the 777X will have grown quite a lot in the market, and as we all know and love the 777 today, the 777X is sure to grow if following the same path as its older sibling.
As for Air China, I see them phasing out the 747-8i or leasing it to another company at 2025-2030 earliest. The reason being that Air China, unlike Lufthansa has a strong grip of the 777 market and pilots with years of experience on it. Sure LH has 77F, but Air China also follows a different business model and location of their Hubs make it a better choice to, for the long term, invest in the A350 and 787 program even further, and also dive into the 777X, which I think will greatly benefit their most profitable and demanding routes. Flight to the US could and should be flown by the 777X by 2030, but that’s my opinion.
And as for Korean Air… now they have the 787 in their fleet, with many more orders of the Dreamliner placed and left to be delivered. Korean air also has not confirmed, as far as I’m concerned about whether they will choose the A350 or 777X to join their fleet next, as some rumors are saying they may go for both. Whichever of if they choose both, the 747-8i will have to leave their fleet eventually. But for KE, I cannot really think of an approximate year for them to retire the B748. Though let’s say, if Air China says good bye to their Queen of the Sky around 2030 at the last, then KE sometime around that time too.
The conclusion from me would be that, I do believe that as the industry moves forward, the 747-8i regardless of having more fuel efficient engines than the -400, it will still see the end of its life sometime between 2030-2045. And I know it’s a long timespan, but that has to do if KE and Air China is able to run the Jumbo along side their newer more economically beneficial aircraft. Economically beneficial in the sense of being more fuel conservative. The 747-8i if fully seated can profit all three airlines here too for years to come, at least another decade and fly along side the modern A350, 787 and 777X, but it depends on how the market changes, at what pace and if the economics of the route the 747 is used on, allows for a continuation or the fall for the Queen of the Sky ✈️
Smile at the 747:
But till that day, the Jumbo we all know and love will still soar above the sky, gracefully and hopefully for a long time to come but eventually it will have to be stored away and said it final good bye to… 👋