Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has withdrawn its single remaining 747-400BCF (25152) and ferried the freighter to the aircraft boneyard at Pinal Airpark (MZJ) in Marana, AZ, via Anchorage (ANC) and Los Angeles (LAX) [FAT 005156]. The aircraft had not flown since operating a round trip between Hong Kong (HKG) and Chennai (MAA) on Aug. 29.
Unit 25152 was first delivered in passenger configuration to South African Airways in June 1991 and was transferred to Cathay in 2006 after having been converted into freighter configuration. At this stage of its career, the 747 featured a bare-metal look under the usual Cathay branding.
As a result of the global financial crisis and the ensuing airfreight downturn, unit 25152 was parked in storage at Victorville (VCV) in 2009 for about a year and a half. It was then leased to Air Hong Kong, which at the time was a joint venture between Cathay and DHL Express, for almost eight years. At the beginning of 2019, it returned to service with Cathay, having been repainted into a plain white livery.
With the removal of the lone BCF, Cathay’s freighter fleet now consists of six 747-400Fs and fourteen 747-8Fs. Cathay ACMI-leases a fifteenth 747-8F from Atlas Air. Cathay’s formerly large contingent of 747-400BCFs has now either been stored or scrapped. A few noteworthy exceptions include units 25068, 26547 and 27217, which were acquired by U.S.-based National Airlines in May 2019 [FATs 004875-004877], and unit 24227, which recently entered service with ACE Belgium Freighters.
There is still a chance we could see unit 25152 returning to the skies. Just last week, a Thai Airways 747-400BCF (24459) was brought out of storage for heavy maintenance, ahead of possible redelivery to a new operator.