Farewell: Cathay Pacific Just Flew its Passenger 747 for the Last Time

About a month ago, I wrote about Cathay Pacific retiring its 747 from passenger service in early October. It’s personally a very sentimental moment in aviation, since my very first flight as a kid was on a Cathay Pacific 747. In its 37 years of service, it has carried over 16 million passengers.

Throughout the past month, the airline, passengers, and aviation enthusiasts have been paying tribute to this wonderful aircraft. Cathay Pacific posted a few photos of its 747, and it’s quite amazing to see how long we’ve come. Back in the 1980s, this is what the upper deck of Cathay Pacific’s 747 was like:

Upper Deck of a Cathay Pacific 747, circa 1980

Upper Deck of a Cathay Pacific 747, circa 1980

Like many Hong Kongers, I remember the significant role of the 747 in Hong Kong’s modern aviation history. In 1997, when Hong Kong began using the new airport, the Cathay 747 was the last plane to depart the old Kai Tak airport, and the first to arrive at the new Chek Lap Kok location. This is one of the best fan-made tribute videos I’ve seen:

In 2014, Cathay Pacific bid farewell to the 747 in North America, with its final flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. That marked the end of a wonderful First Class product in a 9-seat cabin at the nose of a 747.

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Today, the airline flew the last passenger flight for good. CX 543 took off from from Tokyo-Haneda at 10:35 am, and arrived in Hong Kong at 2:04 pm.

Cathay Pacific threw a bit of a farewell party at the gate prior to its departure. Some Marco Polo Club members were invited, and not surprisingly, a few key company personnel were present as well. Cathay Pacific even printed off a few booklets about the history of the 747, and prepared a few social media props. Overall, there was quite a bit of fanfare (no pun intended), as many people shared on social media.

Cathay Pacific themselves “streamed” the event via Instagram Stories, and it looks like some crew members even donned the old uniform as a throwback!

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Cathay Pacific also posted an official album on their Facebook page after the final flight was completed. Apparently one of the engineers who helped deliver Cathay’s first 747 almost 40 years ago was there! Engineer Higashi Ihoto still works for Cathy Pacific, but will be retiring next week. What a way to end a career!

Engineer Higashi Ihoto wears his old uniform cap with a huge sense of pride. Photo by Cathay Pacific.

Engineer Higashi Ihoto wears his old uniform cap with a huge sense of pride. Photo by Cathay Pacific.

From customers to staff members, it’s clear that the Queen of the Skies is a special airplane and has a special meaning for many people. John Graham, the most senior 747 pilot in the company, was selected to be the Captain of the passenger 747’s final flight.

Captain John Graham (left) was chosen for this flight as the longest-serving 747 pilot in Cathay Pacific. Photo by Cathay Pacific.

Captain John Graham (left) was chosen for this flight as the longest-serving 747 pilot in Cathay Pacific. Photo by Cathay Pacific.

I just wanted to add my farewell to the Cathay Pacific passenger 747! It was a truly special airplane, and I was so glad to have experienced it on a truly special airline. The Cathay Pacific 747 will be missed!

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  1. I was on a 747 Cathay out of Manila to Hong Kong..28th..August 2016. I love these planes. Very roomy and quiet. Very nice journey. Been a long time since I flown in one. Shame they are no more Brian From Australia

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