Image: BriYYZ [CC] via Wikimedia
In March, after the pandemic had already been decreed, KLM announced that it would finally end its passenger jumbos. At that time it seemed to be the end of the glorious “Queen of Heaven”, the nickname for which the Boeing 747 is known worldwide, in the colors of the Dutch company. Although the company was on the last flight with passengers, things have changed.
Weeks after the farewell flight, the company reversed its decision to retire due to high demand for cargo and even signed a contract with Philips for cargo flights that gave the jumbo a survival.
However, that era seems to be coming to an end. According to AeroBuzz, KLM has defined that the “Jumbo Jet” chapter in its history will end on October 25, 2020 when flight KL894 from Shanghai lands in Amsterdam.
There are currently three Boeing 747-400 Combi listed as active in the fleet with the license plates PH-BFT, PH-BFV and PH-BFW. According to FlightRadar24, all flew to China almost daily under the contract with Philips, but also due to demand from other companies and general imports into the Netherlands. Although they have passenger seats due to their configuration, flights are exclusively for cargo transportation.
KLM was one of the main operators of Jumbo and received the first 747-200 variant in 1971. In its history it operated dozens of combi-jumbos. The name is an abbreviation for the English word combined (passengers + cargo). The reason for KLM to choose this unusual version of the Jumbo is simple: the special routes.
The Netherlands has several colonial heritage overseas territories, most of them in the Caribbean. Some gained independence, like Suriname, and others are still part of the kingdom, like the Antilles, famous in aviation at Saint Maarten Airport, where the 747 ruled for years.
The 747 Combi has become the ideal product to serve these locations, which have a strong connection to the Netherlands. After all, the demand for cargo is great as it is more isolated places.
The Dutch airline’s Boeing 747-400M Combi carried 268 passengers and 32 LD1 containers. The normal version offers space for 408 passengers. To find out if the KLM Jumbo is a combi or not, just look at the back of the fuselage on the left. The Combi versions have a loading door for easy loading.