Despite it being Singapore Airlines that had the honour of operating the first international 747-400 service Northwest's 747-400s would become regulars on the trans-pacific network and rarely operated to Europe. Northwest's fleet would grow to 16 of the type and the 747-400s were registered N661-N674US and N675-N676NW. Two further 1994 build aircraft originally destined for Northwest became N105 and N106UA with United following cancellation by Northwest but retained their 747-451 status. The last pair of aircraft weren't delivered until April 2002 three years after the delivery of N674US having been ordered along with 757-300s in the 2000s.
The above and below wonderful illustrations are taken from norebbo.com here.
All the 747-400s transferred to Delta, upon their takeover of Northwest in October 2008. N671US shown above was apparently the last of the 400s in the Northwest scheme, not being repainted until January 2010. Delta refurbished the 747-400 fleet with new lie-flat business class seats and global wi-fi, however it was announced in August 2014 that the first four of the aircraft would be retired as capacity growth across the Pacific was decreased and several 747 routes downgauged to 777s and A330s. This fitted in with a strategy of shifting away from intra-Asian services from Tokyo towards operating from its new Pacific gatweay at Seattle. N671US was one of the four stored, at Mojave on September 30, 2014, but she returned to service on June 28, 2015. She was paid off finally on October 31 and is being parted out and scrapped at Mojave.
The 747-400 prototype, N661US, was retired on September 9, 2015 following operating its final flight, between Honolulu and Atlanta. The aircraft has been saved for display at Delta's Museum of Flight. As of January 2016 9 747-451s remain in service with Delta but the type is scheduled to be retired by 2017 according to Delta CEO Richard Anderson. Minneapolis however lost its 747s in 2013 when the last route switched to a 777 bringing 43 years of regular 747 operations at the hub to a close.
2014, August. Delta retiring four 747s as Pacific restructuring continues. Flight Global
2014, October. Delta CEO: Boeing 747s will be retired by 2017. USA Today
2014, December. Boeing 747 Flies Once More From Minneapolis-St. Paul. NYC Aviation.
2015, September. First Boeing 747-400 takes historic final flight. Delta.com
25/2/2016 06:40:23 pm
That will be a sad day when Delta retires the last 747-400. No aircraft really replaces it. The A380 is much bigger, the 747-8 is 50 seats or so more, and the upcoming 777-9 is still short by 25-40 seats or so.
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: