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Boeing's 747-400, a Faded Queen of the Skies

Once the globe’s hot plane, the 747-400 has been hit by fuel prices

Back in the late ’80s, global airlines scrambled to place orders for Boeing’s 747-400 widebody, then the industry’s most coveted aircraft for its sheer size, high-tech cockpit, and creature comforts. Now, ten-year-old passenger 747-400s are worth a record-low $36 million, about 10 percent less than similarly aged planes last year, according to London-based aviation consultancy Ascend, as carriers seek more fuel-efficient models. There’s even little interest in converting the passenger jets into air freighters because of a slump in air cargo demand.

Some 48 of the humpbacked passenger 747-400s worldwide have also been placed in storage, according to Ascend. The onetime “Queen of the Skies” has been shunned in favor of Boeing’s smaller 777 widebody (which has two fewer engines sucking fuel) or Airbus’s mammoth A380 double-decker. “There’s not a lot of demand for the 747,” says Paul Sheridan, Ascend’s head of consultancy Asia. “They’re mostly being broken up for parts.”