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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways has retired its last Boeing 747 with a special flight.

The aircraft made its last flight with six pilots and no passengers aboard from Sydney to the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert, a commercial aviation boneyard, where it will be dismantled.

The airline had expected to retire the venerable airliner model at the end of the year, but the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit hard for airlines, forced them to move up the timetable.

Last week, the Australian carrier announced that it was shutting down all of its international routes until March 2021 due to the steep drop in traffic due to COVID-19.

The jetliner has already been retired by U.S. carriers – by the end of 2017, United Airlines and Delta Airlines had both stopped flying their passenger versions. British Airways announced the retirement of its fleet of 31 747s last week.

The four-engine 747, with its distinctive "hump" originally to accommodate a first-class lounge, began flying with airlines in 1969 and quickly became an icon — gaining favor with carriers for its ability to carry upwards of 366 passengers in relative luxury on long-haul flights.

More than 1,500 747s have been built since then in multiple configurations, including a bevy of passenger variations and cargo freighters. The plane was even used to transport NASA's Space Shuttle.

It wasn't until 2007, when the first giant Airbus A380 went into service, that the 747 "Jumbo Jet" was finally eclipsed.

Qantas put its first 747 in service in 1971.
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