Last Boeing 747 plane leaving factory portends dusk of jumbo jet age
BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Boeing said goodbye to its 747 jumbo jets on Tuesday as it delivered the final plane to cargo carrier Atlas Air at the U.S. aircraft manufacturer’s facility in Everett, in the U.S. state of Washington.
The parting of the 747, nicknamed “the Queen of the Skies,” came nearly four years after European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced it would stop producing the A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner.
With both behemoths nailed in the coffin due to largely reduced orders, the age of jumbo jets is now coming to a close.
IT COMES AND GOES
On Tuesday afternoon, thousands of Boeing’s current and former employees and guests attended a ceremony to bid farewell to the 1,574th and last Boeing 747 ever built in its 53-year-old history.
After the ceremony, the final 747 freighter departed from outside the grand assembly plant in Everett expressly built for the 747 in the late 1960s.
The shutdown of the production line was not done spontaneously. As early as July 2020, Boeing already confirmed that it would end its 747 production in 2022.
As the world’s first wide-body, twin-aisle passenger jet, the 747, which gained a lot of popularity in the 1990s, could hold 400-500 passengers depending on the model and airline layout. Many cargo airlines have also used the 747 as the mainstay of their operations.
A news report by Reuters on Wednesday said Boeing will “remain tied to the 747 through the aftermarket business.” According to consultancy firm Ascend by Cirium, 45 passenger jets and 300 cargo 747s remain in service currently.
Much younger than the 747, the A380 made its maiden flight in 2005, and soon became the major competitor of the 747 on long-haul routes. The full-length double-deck aircraft, the largest and heaviest passenger aircraft in the world, typically seats 525 passengers, with a maximum certified capacity for 853 passengers.
The production of the A380 peaked in 2012 and 2014. However, after Emirates, the largest aircraft customer, reduced its A380 orders as part of a restructuring plan in February 2019, Airbus made the decision to end its A380 production. In December 2021, Emirates received the 251st and last A380 delivered by Airbus, witnessing the end of the superjumbo’s short history.
As of December 2022, there were 237 A380 aircraft in service with 16 operators worldwide.
COSTS MAKE THE CALL
Eroding demand from customers led to the demise of jumbo jets. According to the Reuters report, “Boeing delivered five 747s in 2022, while in 1990, the peak delivery year of the best-selling 747-400 version, Boeing delivered 70 747s.”
A similar scenario befell the A380. In July 2016, Airbus said it would reduce A380 deliveries from 27 aircraft in 2015 to 12 in 2018. In the company’s 2017 half-year report, Airbus adjusted 2019 deliveries to eight aircraft. In 2019, Emirates decided to reduce its A380 orderbook by 39 aircraft.
Airlines are always cost-oriented. The introduction of new types of aircraft over time has made jumbo jets more costly and therefore less attractive to their customers.
Technology breakthroughs in aviation history facilitated the coming out of two-engine airplanes, and unlike the Boeing 747 and A380 and other large four-engine aircraft, those two-engine planes are more fuel efficient.
The fuel costs of the Boeing 747 “flying daily backwards and forwards across the Atlantic are just too expensive now,” another report by Reuters published Wednesday quoted British billionaire Richard Branson as saying.
Jumbo jets have been supplanted by “smaller, more efficient two-engine airplanes” as the latter “could now fly longer distances,” said a report published Tuesday by The New York Times (NYT).
Those new types of aircraft are much safer, too. A timeline published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal noted that the sheer scale of the 747 “amplified any accidents,” citing the airport disaster in 1997 on the Spanish island of Tenerife where the collision of two Boeing 747 passenger jets on the runway led to 583 fatalities as an example.
Meanwhile, a shift in international flight routes has also phased jumbo jets out of service. According to the NYT report, in the old days, the 747 was popular because it helped airlines cut costs.
“Because the airplane could carry so many more passengers in a single trip, airlines could sell tickets more cheaply, making air travel affordable to the masses,” it said.
However, an increasing number of direct international routes between smaller cities have decreased passenger flows on long-haul routes between megacities, and more empty seats in jumbo jets have raised the costs of flying.
Besides, it is noticeable that the decision to scrap the 747 was also made due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s severe impact on the tourism and aviation sectors in the past three years.
The pressure on commercial customers means they are delaying jet purchases, slowing deliveries, deferring elective maintenance, retiring older aircraft and reducing spend, “all of which affects our business and, ultimately, our bottom line,” Boeing’s President and CEO Dave Calhoun said back in 2020.
“Unfortunately, it’s become clear that we need to make further adjustments based on the prolonged impact of COVID-19,” he said.
Source(s): Xinhua & China Daily
Parliamentary resolution calls for price control of goods and services in Ramadan
Maduvvari MP and opposition People’s National Congress’ (PNC) parliamentary group leader Adam Shareef Umar, on Monday, submitted a resolution to the parliament that calls upon the government to control the prices of goods and services during the month of Ramadan.
MP Adam Shareef’s resolution states that the prices of Maldivians’ staple food products have been increased by seven percent following the hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in January. It was also noted that prices increased by 7.82 percent last year, while inflation rose by 75 percent.
The resolution, referring to statistics publicized by the National Bureau of Statistics, said prices of eateries had increased by 4.3 percent.
Statistics publicized by the National Bureau of Statistics show that food prices increased the most between last year’s January and this year’s January. As per the authority, the prices of food products increased by 7.82 percent during this period.
MP Shareef, in his resolution, emphasized that most people have no avenue to increase their income while living expenses continue to gradually rise. He also alleged an increase in payable monies to the government in the guise of fines and others as the public brave through these difficult times.
Therewith, he called on the government to revise the GST rates which was increased and urged state-owned companies to decrease the prices of the services they provide. He also called on the government to control the prices of goods that have plunged above reach for the public, and make arrangements to ensure price control during the month of Ramadan.
OPEC secretary general ponders energy security, transition
HOUSTON, March 7 (Xinhua)– Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said on Tuesday the energy industry needs considerable investment to meet rising global demand and ensure market stability as energy security concerns return to the fore.
Meanwhile, he said the oil and gas industry, which will retain its share as a critical component of the energy mix, must transform and decarbonize operations.
As COP28 comes up in Dubai later this year, “We at OPEC stand fully behind the UAE to bring on board everybody,” he said during the annual CERAWeek global energy forum in Houston.
SECURITY OF SUPPLY
“The key thing that we focus on is always trying to make sure that there is stability, there’s adequate supply to the market,” said the secretary general, warning of the “underinvestment” in hydrocarbons.
“We’ve seen a significant shortfall in investments in the oil sector,” he said.
It can take a long time to come into actual energy production since the typical span is a “few years at best” and up to seven years before new projects come online, he explained.
As the global economy doubles in size, energy demand will increase by 23 percent, but “there is no imaginable way renewables can alone do this (meet the demand),” he told the audience.
He said the energy industry needs 12.1 trillion U.S. dollars in capital investment. “Unless this happens, I’m afraid, honestly, that we could be facing issues in the future with regard to energy security and, accordingly, affordability,” he added.
“We are investing already, and we urge and call others to invest. It’s a global responsibility that OPEC cannot shoulder on its own,” he went on.
SECURITY OF DEMAND
Al Ghais said it is not a concern that Russia redirects its crude oil exports while Middle East exports are increasingly going to Europe, citing his 30 years of experience in the industry.
“It’s quite normal to see this,” he said, “We’ve always seen redirection of flows, whether it’s related to geopolitical events or demand centers being created and others disappearing. So this is typical where we have a redirection in flows from the east to the west or the west to the east.”
According to the forecast from OPEC, oil demand will increase by 2.3 million barrels a year, with the majority of the rise in demand coming from China and India, the secretary general said.
However, the global energy market is big enough despite improving demand, said Al Ghais.
“What concerns us more is actually the slowdown we see in Europe and the U.S. in terms of the financial situation and the inflation,” he said, noting a divided market is emerging on the demand side.
“There is phenomenal demand growth in Asia,” he said, and Russia’s oil production has been “resilient and managed to find new homes.”
He added that without the existence of OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, there would be more instability and volatility.
“With security of supply, there is also a requirement for security of demand, and the tools fit in together like hand and glove,” said the OPEC chief.
OPEC sees energy transitions as “absolutely an opportunity,” Al Ghais said.
“I don’t think it’s a threat. Again, it was something that we are already embracing. We believe this is an opportunity for us to meet our Paris Agreement goals,” he said.
“I think it’s important to look at the whole issue of energy transition, which I prefer to call energy transitions, by the way, not transition, with a sense of reality,” he said, “There is no one size fits all solution.”
Al Ghais said the energy transitions should “focus on different countries’ capabilities, circumstances, their potentials, their financial capabilities, and so forth.”
“When we talk about transition here in the U.S. or in Europe, it means nothing to other people around different parts of the world. What we take here for granted, like switching on the light, (a) switch is not available in other places in the world,” he went ahead, noting there are a million Africans alone who have no access to electricity.
The five-day CERAWeek will conclude on Friday and is focused on the dual challenges of meeting the world’s growing energy demand while reducing emissions.
More than 7,000 participants, including policymakers, industry leaders, company executives, investors and researchers from over 80 countries and regions, joined the forum, according to organizer S&P Global.
Saudi Arabia deposits 5 bln USD at Turkish Central Bank
RIYADH, March 6 (Xinhua) — Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it had deposited 5 billion U.S. dollars at the Central Bank of Türkiye.
The deposit, which was part of an agreement between the Saudi Fund for Development and the Central Bank of Türkiye, revealed the close cooperation and historical ties between the two countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The kingdom’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre launched in February a nationwide donation campaign to help the earthquake-hit victims in Syria and Türkiye through an online platform.
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