The last Boeing 747 in the Air NZ fleet makes its final flight for the airline this week.

Air New Zealand's last Jumbo jet is due to make its last passenger flight from Auckland on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old Boeing 747-400 will fly to San Francisco and return two days later.

Although the airline has not announced its fate, it is unlikely to be scrapped or parked up like other jumbos have in recent years.

"Unfortunately we're unable to say more publicly at this point while the deal is being negotiated," an airline spokeswoman said.

Advertisement

The plane, ZK-NBV was named in honour of Christchurch when it joined the airline's fleet and according to Air New Zealand 747 fleet manager Captain Ron Woodward played a role in providing emergency transport for those wanting to leave the city immediately following the 2011 earthquake.

Read also:
End of an era as 747's number is up

The airline's first 747 arrived to a big reception in May, 1981 and there have been 13 flown by Air New Zealand since.

It has had to keep the planes longer than planned because of delays to the arrival of the more fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the first of which has now joined the airline and has been flying across the Tasman.

Woodward said the 747 had been useful in plugging gaps during the 787 delays and has been used to generate ancillary revenue from charters.

View a photo gallery of Air NZ's Jumbo jet history:

"As unhappy or as sad as a lot of us will be to see the aircraft go we've got to focus on the future and the rationalisation of the fleets down to 787s, 777s and A320 will help the business. You can't get away from that and the spinoff is that there's a good environmental impact as well "

Woodward's been flying the jumbo on and off for the past nine years and will be in the cockpit for last flight.

Advertisement

"It's been the backbone of the fleet and earned its name Queen of the Skies. It's still a very pretty aircraft and certainly one of the most distinctive."

First commercial flight by Air New Zealand Boeing 747, ZK N2V to Sydney- June 11 1981.
First commercial flight by Air New Zealand Boeing 747, ZK N2V to Sydney- June 11 1981.

While several airlines are retaining their jumbos - notably Lufthansa which is upgrading to the latest cargo-carrying version of the plane and KLM which still has 15 in its fleet - others are disposing of their old planes in favour of lighter more efficient twin-engine aircraft.

Boeing has produced more than 1500 of the aircraft which revolutionised long haul travel during the 1970s.