Airlines have relied on Boeing’s (BA) iconic 747 jets to carry passengers around the world since the 1970s, but a shifting economic landscape may end the plane’s storied career.
The four engine jet can carry up to 560 people. But that can be a problem for airlines who can’t fill every seat, particularly on heavily trafficked routes. Airlines are increasingly opting for smaller, two-engine jets like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330, which are less costly to operate, the Associated Press notes.
Those changes have forced Boeing to curtail 747 production. Sales have also stalled. The 747 has a list price of $350 million per plane, compared to $320 million for the Boeing 777. The introduction of a new version of the 777 that seats 400 is expected to further reduce lingering demand for the 747.
Annual production of the 747 hit its high in 1990, when the company built 122 planes. Boeing expects to produce just 747s per year for the next two years, with many going directly into storage.
Boeing contends that the 747 is still right for some markets, especially in Asia.
Shares of Boeing fell modestly in Thursday morning trading.