Boeing 747, once a glamorous symbol of the jet age, lives out final years as cargo workhorse

Planet Business: The fate of the ‘Queen of the Skies’, plus UK vs Russian GDP forecasts, TikTok’s low-profile CEO and a DC Universe reboot

Image of the week: Boeing, Boeing gone

From media sensation to cargo carrier, the past half-century has been quite a journey for the “Queen of the Skies”, otherwise known as the Boeing 747, the last of which left the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington, this week.

Only a handful of airlines still use 747s for passenger flights, with the aircraft’s final customer, Atlas Air, chartering its last 747-8 to transport company Apex Logistics.

But the glamour of the 747 was once sky-high. Developed in the late 1960s by a team of Boeing engineers, mechanics and executives dubbed “the Incredibles”, the maiden 747 commercial flight in 1970 saw it bring 300 Pan Am passengers from London to New York, capturing the imagination of the public somewhere en route.

Early models of the twin-aisle, four-engine 747 had an upper-deck lounge that could be reached via a spiral staircase, a feature that turned out to have somewhat less longevity than another of its innovations: overhead bins.


The Boeing 747 outlived Pan Am, it outlived Concorde and it outlived Airbus A380, the rival model that overtook it as the world’s largest passenger aircraft in 2007. But Boeing and Airbus these days prefer smaller, twin-jet planes that can travel longer distances than was previously possible and can do so more efficiently than the colossuses of the past. It’s probably for the best.

Still, negotiating a spiral staircase in turbulence must have been fun.

In numbers: Performance issues


Growth in gross domestic product (GDP) that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects to see this year in Russia.


GDP growth in 2023 that the IMF is forecasting for the UK, now the only major economy it is predicting to shrink this year.


Recovery in UK economic growth pencilled in for 2024 – better, but not quite world-beating.

Getting to know: Shou Zi Chew

Unlike his counterparts at other tech companies, the world has not heard much from Singapore-based Shou Zi Chew (40) since he became chief executive of TikTok almost two years ago. He did rock up to Brussels recently to assure European Union policymakers that TikTok would respect EU rules on data privacy and child protection, but a higher profile encounter is now in the diary.

Chew, who was previously chief financial officer of TikTok parent company ByteDance, has agreed to testify before Congress next month as Washington concerns about the app – namely its relationship with China’s ruling Communist Party, its handling of data and its effects on young users – remain high. Indeed, hostility to TikTok is such that the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee is set to vote on a bill that would block access to the app in the US.

The Singaporean – a nationality stressed by TikTok – attended University College London and Harvard Business School and likes to play golf. For a social media boss, however, he doesn’t post very much.

The list: DCU highlights

To some Irish people, DCU is that place with the Henry Grattan building, the world’s most perplexing canteen and, somewhere on the periphery, a library. But what DCU, or “the DCU”, increasingly refers to is not a university, but something much more important: the DC Cinematic Universe. Under the DC Studios leadership of James Gunn and Peter Safran, the DCU is set to be rebooted. So what’s coming soon?

1. Superman: Legacy: The “start of the DCU” will see Superman balance his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. Maybe Clark Kent could commission him to write a thinkpiece for the Daily Planet.

2. The Brave and the Bold: This film is not named after the leadership of DC’s parent company Warner Bros Discovery and will instead focus on “the Bat family”. This means a return to the fold for Batman sidekick Robin.

3. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: Here, Supergirl will manifest as Superman but with extra trauma. She didn’t get to spend her childhood on cosy Earth like he did.

4. Waller: The HBO Max series will see Viola Davis reprise her role as amoral government official Amanda Waller. “It’s just the greatest show ever,” according to Gunn. No pressure then.

5. Paradise Lost: Set on the all-women island of Themyscira before the birth of Wonder Woman, this “Game of Thrones-ish” HBO series is excellent news for makers of metal and leather battle costumes.