Boeing (NYSE:BA) reportedly plans to wind down production of its massive 747 jumbo jet, the end of an era for double-decker jets as airlines focus on smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft.
The company has not yet made the decision official, but Bloomberg reported the last 747-8 will roll off Boeing's assembly line in about two years.
The 747, nicknamed "the Queen of the Skies," entered service in 1970 with its signature bulging front that housed a second floor for passengers. Its demise follows a decision by Airbus (OTC:EADSY) to cease production of its A380 two-story airplane.
While the timing of Boeing's decision is new, the fate of the 747 has been obvious for a while.
The plane was a four-engine gas guzzler designed to carry large numbers of passengers between international hubs. With airlines in recent years favoring smaller, more-efficient planes and bypassing hubs in favor of point-to-point flying, demand for the larger jets has ebbed.
Boeing has seen former 747 customers gravitate toward its dual-engine, more-efficient models including the 777 and the 787 Dreamliner, as well as the Airbus A350. Boeing's most recent 747 order was from the U.S. Air Force, for the new Air Force One presidential transport.
The trend toward smaller planes figures only to accelerate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with most airlines looking to cut costs and refocusing their schedules toward domestic flying. International travel demand is expected to take years to recover, lessening the need for large jets.